with Joe Cortese

This Timeless Love Song is Turning 50!

Fifty years ago this month, Dolly Parton released a song called “I Will Always Love You.” Parton hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart twice – first in 1974, and then again in 1982 with a re-recording.

As you probably know, Whitney Houston then recorded the song in 1992 for her film “The Bodyguard,” and it became a huge hit again. It stayed #1 on the pop charts for 14 weeks.

The song is one of those timeless classics – and boy, does it have an interesting history!

Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973, on the exact same day she wrote another hit song, “Jolene.”

She wrote the song for her one-time partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner. Parton was embarking on a solo career after their seven-year professional partnership.

“I had come to Nashville to be my own star. I really felt like I needed to move on. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being [his] ‘girl singer.’ I knew my destiny. I knew that I had to continue doing what I felt led and drawn to do,” Parton told Howard Stern. “The thing I can do best is to write, so I went home … [and] wrote the song ‘I Will Always Love You.’”

The song rose to the top of the country charts and then one year later, Parton received a call from Elvis Presley, who asked if he could record the song!

“I was out of my mind with excitement… thinking about Elvis singing my song,” Parton said.

Unfortunately, that never happened. Elvis’ infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker, called the night before Elvis was to record and said he needed half of the songwriting/publishing rights. Parton refused. “I said, ‘That’s not possible because that is my most important copyright… I can’t do that.’”

Parton said she cried all night about that one.

She also encouraged sing Patti LaBelle several times over the years to record the song. LaBelle said she kept putting it off and would later come to regret it.

‘Later’ came in 1992 when Whitney Houston recorded the song for “The Bodyguard” and it became a massive hit.

Parton told Stern that she heard Houston’s version for the first time while driving. She said she had to pull over so she didn’t crash! “I couldn’t believe my little country sad song could even be done like that … and it was just overwhelming. That was one of the greatest experiences I ever had in my entire life,” Parton said.

“I Will Always Love You” has also been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Amber Riley, LeAnn Rimes, and the UK’s Sarah Washington (with a totally different take).

We’ve rounded up a few below – enjoy!

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