In 1967 country music superstar Porter Wagoner invited Dolly Parton to co-host his TV series. The duo went on to record twelve albums together. The television exposure helped Dolly score several solo hits as well, including the classic “Jolene.”
She left the series in 1974 to focus on her solo career. As a goodbye and thank you to Wagoner she wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You.” The record went to #1 on the country music chart but it didn’t crossover to the pop charts.
After he heard Parton’s record, Elvis Presley wanted to record a cover of the tune. Dolly was open to this until Presley’s manager told her she would have to turn over half of the publishing royalties to Elvis in exchange for him making the song a hit. She declined.
In 1975 Linda Ronstadt recorded a cover of the tune for her Prisoner in Disguise album.
In 1982 Parton re-recorded the song for her film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The new version also went to #1 on the country chart. It reached #53 on the pop chart.
Ten years later Whitney Houston recorded her version of the song for the soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard. The plan was for Houston to cover “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” but that song ended up being used in another film released in 1991. Kevin Costner, Houston’s co-star in The Bodyguard, was familiar with “I Will Always Love You” from Linda Ronstadt’s recording of it. He suggested it to Whitney, who loved it. Clive Davis, the head of Whitney’s label, Arista Records, wasn’t sure about having his soul diva cover a country song, but Costner insisted. You know how this story ends.
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 68th birthday of Dolly Parton by laughin’ and drinkin’ and havin’ a party and presenting a playlist of some of her best.