Few songs had the immense crossover success that Dolly Parton saw with “I Will Always Love You,” thanks to Whitney Houston’s cover of the song. But, another non-country singer wanted to record the song and Dolly said “no.”
Dolly wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 for Porter Wagoner, and released it a year later. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice…once in 1974 and again eight years later with the movie version for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
But, Whitney Houston’s 1992 rendition for The Bodyguard gave the song record-breaking success. It spent 14 weeks at number one and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.
In a new interview, Dolly Parton revealed that long before Whitney Houston made “I Will Always Love You” a crossover hit, the King of Rock and Roll himself wanted to record the song. While Parton wanted to approve of Elvis’s request, she ultimately told him no after his manager asked for half of her publishing rights.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing,’” Parton told W. “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart – I cried all night. 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.”
Elvis Presley never recorded the song, but it made an impression on him as he sang it to his ex-wife when they divorced in 1973.
“Priscilla, Elvis’ wife, told me that when she and Elvis divorced, Elvis sang my song to her,” Parton said. “That touched me so deeply. And they also played the song at Whitney Houston’s funeral. After that, I thought, I bet they’ll play the same song when I go.”