Dolly Parton’s plan to let Elvis Presley cover her song ‘I Will Always Love You’ fell apart following a row with his manager Colonel Tom Parker.
The 77-year-old country superstar has revealed she was talking to Elvis about letting him record his own version of the ballad because he loved the track and even sang it to his wife Priscilla after they got divorced, but Dolly says the deal was canned after the singer’s controversial manager tried to force her to sign over the publishing rights to him.
During an appearance on BBC Radio 2 , Dolly explained: “I wouldn’t let Colonel Tom Parker [have the rights to the song]. Elvis loved it. I talked to Priscilla not very long ago – she said: ‘Elvis sang it to me when we were on the courthouse steps after we got divorced.’
“He loved the song and wanted to do it. Had it worked up. They’d already called me to come down to the studio and to hear part of the song.”
However, a phone call from Parker changed everything. Dolly went on: “But then Colonel Tom Parker, called me the afternoon before the session and said ‘You do know we have to have at least half the publishing on any song that Elvis records?’ And I said ‘No, I did not know that’. He said ‘Well, it’s just a rule’. So I said ‘Well, it’s not my rule’… This is the most important copyright in my whole publishing company, and I can’t do that.”
The singer confessed she was “heartbroken” and burst into tears because she was so upset.
Dolly added: “I cried all night long, ’cause I was so disappointed. It wasn’t Elvis, I loved Elvis. And I’m sure he was as disappointed as I was because he had it all worked up and ready to go. I know he loved the song.”
The track has been covered by stars including Linda Ronstadt and LeAnn Rimes over the years, but it was Whitney Houston’s 1992 version that turned the track into a global sensation.