In 2022, Dolly Parton was listed among the nominees for the 2022 inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the latest in a long line of rockstar moves, she turned it down.
The music icon wrote that while she was "extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated," she didn't feel that she'd "earned that right" to a space in the Rock Hall.
"I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out," Parton shared.
Well, she was inducted anyway. And by the time the country queen announced that she would, in fact, gracefully accept the honor, it's clear that Dolly's high heels were already in motion — strutting right into her rocker era.
"I am honored and humbled by the fact that I have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course I will accept gracefully," Parton wrote after the announcement was made. "Thanks to everyone that voted for me and to everyone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I will continue to work hard and try to live up to the honor."
Parton's induction ceremony further proved that Dolly has "rock and roll down in [her] country soul," taking the stage to sing with Pink, Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow, Annie Lennox, Pat Benetar and Judas Priest's Rob Halford.
"And you thought I couldn't rock!" she joked with the audience, before strumming a Superstrat and launching into her new song "Rockin'," which would go on to be the lead track on her first ever rock album. Simply put, if Dolly was going to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she was damn sure going to do it her way.
A few months later, Parton announced her 30-track album Rockstar (out Nov. 17), for which she enlisted Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Sting, Lizzo, Pat Benetar and more.
And while this may be Parton's first official rock album, the singer-songwriter has always exuded a rockstar mentality by remaining committed to doing exactly what she wants, whether it's wisely ignoring critics who told her to tone down her look or her savvy decision to maintain ownership of her songs — even if that means turning down the King of Rock and Roll.
In honor of Dolly's Rockstar era, here are 5 standout rockstar moments from her latest album.
"What's Up," feat. Linda Perry
Parton reconnected with Linda Perry, who she previously worked with on the Dumplin' soundtrack, for '90s Gen X anthem "What's Up?," originally recorded by Perry's band 4 Non Blondes. With Parton taking the lead, she turns an exploration of a quarter life crisis into a gentle folk-rock rumination on the state of the world and a reminder that just because we may never know all the answers, it doesn't mean we stop asking the question.
The track, along with Parton's Melissa Etheridge collaboration ("Tried to Rock and Roll Me"), is proof that we need a Rockstar Vol. 2, jam packed with '90s rock queens. A Dolly and Alanis Morissette collab perhaps? A Dolly spin on Liz Phair? Starting a prayer circle around my Exhile in Guyville CD that this comes to fruition.
"Wrecking Ball," feat. Miley Cyrus
Parton and Miley Cyrus' gave all of us a harbinger of hope when they helped ring in 2023 with a mashup of Cyrus' 2013 smash "Wrecking Ball" and Parton's timeless "I Will Always Love You." Here, the godmother and goddaughter revisit two of their most iconic songs for a studio recording. Hearing Parton, who's long praised Cyrus' talent and unbridled devotion to staying true to herself (wonder where she learned that...), sing Cyrus' hit is enough to soften the hardest hearts. But when Parton wails "I will always love you" right before the chorus drops, it's pop-rock perfection.
"What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done For You," feat. Stevie Nicks
Rockstar is at its best when Parton is in conversation with her sisters of rock. Stevie Nicks collaboration 'What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done For You," penned by Nicks about a rocker ex, feels like a gleeful late night conversation between girlfriends — if those girlfriends happen to be two of the greatest music icons of all time.
"She stayed in Nashville for four days, which was great. Getting in the studio with her was great. We talked a lot," Parton told The Hollywood Reporter about recording with Nicks. "We talked about before she started with Fleetwood Mac. We did talk about the business. We talked about our backgrounds."
"You're No Good," feat. Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow
One of the album's most moving moments is Parton's tribute to her Trio sisters Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Parton and Harris team up with Sheryl Crow for a rendition of Ronstadt's "You're No Good." Ronstadt, a rock icon who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, retired from her singing career due to a rare condition called progressive supranuclear palsy.
"We were like sisters, and then I thought who else seems like a sister to me in the business that would know Emmylou and Linda. That was Sheryl Crow," Parton told ABC News. "Sheryl is one of the most generous, sweetest people."
"Let It Be," feat. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
Just weeks before The Beatles' last song "Now and Then" was released, Parton reunited the two living members of the Fab Four (and looped in Peter Frampton and Mick Fleetwood, for good measure) for "Let it Be." On the recording, Parton remains faithful to the original, which was penned by McCartney and John Lennon and recorded for The Beatles' 1970 studio album of the same name.
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