Elle King Revealed Her Private Conversation With Dolly Parton After Elle's Drunken Tribute Performance, And It Sounds Like It Was Exactly What Elle Needed To Hear

Elle King Revealed Her Private Conversation With Dolly Parton After Elle's Drunken Tribute Performance, And It Sounds Like It Was Exactly What Elle Needed To Hear
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Elle King discussed her drunken Dolly Parton tribute for the first time.

Elle King at a red carpet event, wearing a dark outfit with a white-trimmed blazer. She has multiple face and neck tattoos
John Parra / Getty Images for Audacy

In January, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville as part of a concert in honor of Dolly's 78th birthday. During her performance, Elle forgot the lyrics to Dolly's "Marry Me." She also told the crowd she was "fucking hammered."

Elle King onstage
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images for YouTube

During an episode of Chelsea Handler's Dear Chelsea podcast, released on Thursday, Elle explained what happened on the night of the concert.

Elle King performs onstage, wearing a fringed outfit and sunglasses, holding a microphone
Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images

“I did a big no-no. I not only cussed onstage, hammered at the Grand Ole Opry, but it was Dolly Parton’s birthday, and the Opry was doing a Dolly Parton tribute,” Elle said.

Elle King at an event wearing a wide-brimmed hat and bell-sleeved outfit
Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

"I had been going through something very heavy and traumatic in my life at the time," she continued, "and that day was a really big day dealing with what I was going through — and that I'm still going through — and I suffer from, like, severe PTSD."

Elle King performs on stage, holding a banjo and singing into a microphone. She wears a wide-brimmed hat, dark shirt, and jeans, with tattoos visible on her arms
Rick Kern / WireImage

Elle said she also hadn't eaten or slept in days, which made her more "overwhelmed." Plus, she wasn't expecting to perform that much that day. "This other singer who was supposed to be the headliner backed out, like, three hours before, and they asked me if I would be the headliner," Elle recalled.

Closeup of Elle King onstage
Rick Kern / WireImage

"The first show [went] fucking perfect," she said. "I take one shot too many, and I’m just not there in my body. I’m not there. I don’t remember it. I know now what I said. I said, ‘I’m Elle King, and I’m fucking hammered.’ I got the curtain dropped on me.”

Closeup of Elle King onstage
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Elle said she "totally, 100% dissociated" and blanked out what she said onstage but remembered getting backstage and "sobbing, like, 'What have I done?'"

Elle King onstage
John Shearer / Getty Images

“I was mortified,” she continued. “I handwrote an apology letter to the Opry. I handwrote an apology letter to Dolly.”

Closeup of Elle King onstage
Manny Carabel / Getty Images for Audacy's Leading Ladies 2024

She and Dolly also spoke a couple of days later. "She's literally, like, proof that the angels exist," Elle said of the country music legend. "She just gave me really kind words and told me, 'Well, Dolly's not mad at you. Why should I be?' And made me laugh. That's the kindness from women and the kind of stuff that I received that I'll never forget because I wanted to fucking die."

Elle performing on stage in a shiny outfit consisting of a crop top and skirt, with metallic boots and tattoos visible, engaging the audience with the microphone
Jason Davis / Getty Images

Dolly has also defended Elle in past interviews. In April, she told Extra, "Elle is really a great artist. She's a great girl. She's been going through a lot of hard things lately, and she just had a little too much to drink. So let's just forgive that and forget it and move on because she felt worse than anybody ever could."

Dolly Parton, in a sparkling dress, talks animatedly with Jimmy Fallon during an interview on his talk show set
Nbc / Todd Owyoung / NBC via Getty Images

You can listen to Elle's comments on Chelsea's podcast here, around the 17:30 mark:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-800-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.