- Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” was almost covered by Elvis Presley.
- But his manager asked for half of Parton’s publishing rights for the song, and she refused.
- “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart—I cried all night,” Parton told W Magazine.
Dolly Parton’s beloved record “I Will Always Love You” was almost covered by fellow music icon Elvis Presley, but only if she had been willing to give up publishing rights that went on to earn her at least $10 million in royalties.
The 75-year-old country legend spoke her decision in an interview with W Magazine, explaining that Presley’s manager asked for half of Parton’s publishing rights.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing,'” Parton said. “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart—I cried all night.”
She continued: “But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can. These are my songs — they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”
Though Presley never recorded the song, Parton shared that Presley’s ex-wife told her that he sung the song to her when she and Presley divorced.
“I Will Always Love You” was written in 1973, inspired by Parton’s former partner and mentor Porter Wagoner. Parton wrote the song about her decision to separate from Wagoner professionally. According to W Magazine, when she sang it for him, he said, “That’s the best song you ever wrote. And you can go, if I can produce that song.”
In 1992, Whitney Houston covered the song for the romance film “The Bodyguard.” The song was played at Houston’s funeral when she died in 2012.
Parton predicts the same for her: “I bet they’ll play the same song when I go,” she said.
During a virtual appearance on The Graham Norton Show in 2020, Parton shared that the first time she heard Houston’s version was when she was driving and initially didn’t recognize the song till she heard the chorus.
“It was the most overwhelming feelings I’ve ever had, to hear that done so well, so beautiful, so big – I had no idea I’d written a song that could be that important,” she said. “I think she just took it and made it so much more than it would have ever been.”
According to Forbes, Parton has earned $10 million in royalties from “I Will Always Love You” in the 1990s. As previously reported by Insider’s Jason Guerrasio, Parton says she uses royalties from Whitney Houston’s song in “The Bodyguard” to support a Black neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee.