The Powerful Reason Dolly Parton Once Turned Down a Business Deal from Elvis Presley

Rebecca Norris
·3 mins read

From Country Living

  • Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire have been friends for over 40 years.

  • On Monday, September 21, Dolly joined Reba on her new Spotify podcast, “Living and Learning With Reba McEntire.”

  • In the episode, Dolly shed light on how to forge your own path.

In case you missed it, Reba McEntire’s new Spotify podcast, “Living and Learning With Reba McEntire” debuted on Monday, September 21. In a brand new episode—which was co-hosted by Melissa Peterman, a.k.a. Barbara Jean from the early ‘00s sitcom, RebaDolly Parton joined the conversation to shed light on the importance of forging your own path in your career and life in general.

After chatting through their own experiences in their careers, Reba and Melissa welcomed Dolly to the show to share her own career and life advice.

Part of taking care of her gift and staying true to herself included turning down Elvis’ request to record “I Will Always Love You” because he had wanted 50 percent of the royalties and she wanted to own the publishing.

“That is a true story,” Dolly confirmed. “It didn’t have anything to do with Elvis. I loved Elvis. It was Colonel Tom Parker—his manager, who was brilliant; you can’t take that away from people; he did alright by him. But, I had already had a number one song on ‘I Will Always Love You’ and that was the most important copyright I had in my publishing company.”

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Hey! I know her 😉

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton) on Mar 9, 2020 at 10:10am PDT

As excited as Dolly was about the prospect of Elvis recording her song, when his manager asked for more, she stuck to her guns.

“I was so excited he was going to do it and the night before the recession, Colonel Tom called me and said ‘You know, we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have publishing or at least half the publishing,’” she shared. “I said, ‘Well, that turns a new light on this because I can’t give you half the publishing. I’m going to leave that to my family. I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ And he said, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’ And I cried all night because I just pictured Elvis singing it—and I know that Elvis loved it and I know that it wasn’t him."

In reminiscing on her decision and her career, Dolly admitted that she’s turned down what a lot of people would consider to be good deals.

“You need to know when to stand up for yourself… That’s kind of what you have to learn: To stand up and know that you’ve got to live with all the decisions that you make,” she said. “I make decisions every day. The good ones inspire me and the bad ones just kind of teach me, so that’s kind of how you have to look at it.”

As if that sentiment weren’t powerful enough to meditate on, Dolly also shared a few new Dolly-isms to inspire listeners to navigate their lives authentically.

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