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Dolly Parton speaks out on Elle King's drunken birthday tribute to her

Dolly Parton is sharing her thoughts on Elle King's drunken tribute performance to her, which landed the younger singer in deep water.
Dolly Parton speaks out on Elle King's drunken birthday tribute to her
Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 13, 2024

Dolly Parton has "Real Love" for Elle King, despite the latter's drunken tribute performance for the country legend's 78th birthday.

The performance at the Grand Ole Opry last month landed King in hot water once various videos from the Nashville crowd spread, capturing the 34-year-old slurring her words and telling fans she was "f***ing hammered" before giving a stumbling and expletive-heavy rendition of Parton's "Marry Me."

"I'm not even gonna f***ing lie, y'all bought tickets for this s***? You ain't getting your money back," King said in one video. In another mid-performance, she said, "I don't know the lyrics to this thing in this f***ing town. Don't tell Dolly, 'cause it's her birthday."

But even if attendees and social media viewers might hold a grudge, Parton is standing behind the "Ex's & Oh's" singer, while telling fans to do the same.

"Elle is really a great artist. She's a great girl, and she's been going through a lot of things lately," Parton told ExtraTV in a recent interview. "She just had a little too much to drink, so let's just forgive that and forget it and move on, 'cause she felt worse than anyone ever could."

Parton wasn't in the crowd for the Jan. 19 show, which one attendee said would've "mortified" the "Jolene" singer. Her sister, Stella, also wasn't in attendance, but she still shared her thoughts on the profane performance.

"It wouldn't be the first time a Hillbilly went on the stage of the Opry 'hammered' but I guess it's ok if you're a male but good lord don't ever let a girl behave that way folks! Double f***ng standard if ya ask me," she wrote in a post on X. "To any lil ego thinking they can learn the lyrics correctly with a half assed listen to one of Dolly's song. Surprise! You'll end up looking as silly as that lil girl."

The iconic music venue itself also spoke out on King's performance in a post on X, replying to an unhappy fan with, "We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night's second Opry performance."

King hasn't commented on the incident, but days after it, she rescheduled several of her upcoming concerts without explanation.

She has previously admitted to enjoying a drink before a show, but mostly to settle her nerves.

"I get nervous before I go on stage, [so] I have a couple of drinks [first]," she told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2022. "Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don't make them, it won't sting as much." 

The habit, however, landed her in another controversy weeks before the Grand Ole Opry performance when she appeared drunk while slurring a performance on "New Year's Eve Live: Nashville's Big Bash."

SEE MORE: Elle King under fire for drunken, expletive-heavy Dolly Parton tribute

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