Young Dolly Parton Once “Threatened To Kill” People For Playing Her Song

Young Dolly Parton Once “Threatened To Kill” People For Playing Her Song | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt - littlesparrow185 / Youtube

At the tender age of 13, Dolly Parton ventured into a recording studio to lay down tracks for what many believe to be her first record. Already an experienced performer, having graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Parton was no stranger to the spotlight. Yet, her musical journey had begun even earlier, with attempts to shield her earliest recording from reaching the public’s ears.

Young Dolly’s Determination and Hidden Tape

Parton’s ambition and determination to carve out a path in the music industry were evident from a young age. She dedicated herself to songwriting and seized every opportunity to perform at local venues, often accompanied by her uncles. At 13, she recorded “Puppy Love” and “Girl Left Alone” with a local label. The setup was tailored to accommodate her petite stature, ensuring the microphone could capture her voice’s fullest capabilities, as noted in Alanna Nash’s book, Dolly.

However, an earlier recording existed, one that Parton wished to keep hidden from the world. Skip Trotter, an employee at the Sevierville radio station WSEV, revealed the existence of this recording, made when Parton was merely eight or ten years old. With a voice distinctively childlike and squeaky, this record was created using a single microphone and an Ampex 601, resulting in a less than stellar pressing. Trotter shared that Parton has gone to great lengths to ensure this early attempt remains private. “She’s threatened to kill us if we ever play it,” Trotter said, highlighting the extent of Parton’s desire to keep this recording under wraps and secured away from public consumption.

The anecdote shared by Trotter only adds to the narrative of Parton’s relentless pursuit of a successful recording career. Having met her as a child, Trotter had front-row seats to Parton’s unwavering dedication. Regardless of the circumstances, Parton demonstrated a work ethic that rivaled that of most adults. Trotter recalled instances where Parton, despite exhaustion, would push through the night to make it to performances. “They dragged her around to all those schoolhouses,” he explained. Parton’s resolve was palpable, having worked towards her dream since she was five.

 

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Early Stardom: Dolly’s Innate Showmanship and Stagecraft

While her family members didn’t perceive her as possessing a unique musical inclination, Parton’s onstage presence told a different story. Bud Brewster, a banjo player who worked with Parton, noticed her exceptional showmanship early on. Her ability to connect with the audience and her inherent showmanship set her apart. “She was always a show person. She knew what it was about. Her personality just seemed to come out on stage,” Brewster observed. Despite her shy nature, Parton’s vibrancy and charisma shone through her performances, effectively masking any hint of nervousness.

Her stage repertoire during her school years included a mix of songs that highlighted her versatility as a performer. “She sang a song called ‘I Love a Tall Man’ a lot. That was one of the first songs she sang on the show. And she sang a lot of hymns, done ’em just terrific,” added Brewster. This professional demeanor and ability to captivate an audience, even at such a young age, foreshadowed Parton’s destined rise to stardom.

It’s clear from hearing about Parton’s early steps towards her legendary stature in the music industry that she was driven by a strong sense of dedication, hard work, and a hint of secrecy—especially when talking about her very first recording. The fact that Parton is reluctant to discuss this aspect of her musical past shows how dedicated she is to perfecting her craft and how eager she is to share with the public just the greatest of her creations. It is evidence of the extent to which artists will go in order to refine their reputation and preserve their legacy.