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Dolly Parton’s sister reacts to Elle King’s disastrous performance for country legend’s birthday celebration

Country legend’s sister, Stella Parton, was among those to criticise King for her behaviour

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 22 January 2024 08:00 GMT
Dolly Parton makes Stephen Colbert cry during song

Country music singer Elle King has caused a stir with her performance at historic Nashville venue the Ryman Auditorium, as footage emerged showing her admitting that she was “hammered” during a tribute performance for Dolly Parton.

The show took place on Friday 19 February as the second of two concerts held by the Grand Ole Opry for the Queen of Country’s 78th birthday celebrations.

Video footage shared on social media shows King, 34, appearing to slur her words as she tells the audience she was “hammered”, before launching into a chaotic cover of Parton’s song “Marry Me”.

“I don’t know the lyrics to these things in this f***ing town, don’t tell Dolly ‘cause it’s her birthday,” she said.

Addressing the audience, she added: “I’m not even gonna f***ing lie… y’all bought tickets for this s***, you ain’t getting your money back.”

Parton herself was not in attendance, but King’s behaviour has been branded “disrespectful” by fans, while her sister, Stella Parton, accused King of insulting Parton’s fans.

“I didn’t see nor hear the Grand Ole Opry birthday tribute to my big sister Dolly over the weekend,” Stella wrote on X/Twitter on Monday 22 January.

“But some lil girl by the name of Elle King apparently cussed and insulted some of Dolly’s fans by not knowing a song. She did admit to being ‘hammered’ her word not mine.”

Country singer Elle King was criticised for her behaviour (Getty Images)

“I know nothing about Elle King so I’m gonna start off by saying that,” one fan wrote. “However you will not disrespect Dolly Parton and the Ryman by cursing and being so drunk it’s not even funny. While trying to perform. What she did is an absolute disgrace, and she seriously needs help .”

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“Elle King is trash!” another fan said. “I could not believe she would disrespect a beloved icon like Dolly Parton and at the Ryman of all places!”

“We deeply regret and apologise for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance,' the venue said in response to fan complaints.

The Independent has contacted King and Parton’s representatives for comment.

Dolly Parton turned 78 on 19 January 2024 (Getty Images for NARAS)

A number of events were held in Nashville over the weekend to celebrate Parton’s birthday.

Among the other artists performing at the Opry event were Terri Clark, Ashley Monroe, and Dailey and Vincent.

Organisers allocated $5 per ticket to go to the Opry Trust Fund, which assists members of the music community in need, in Parton’s honour.

Parton released her latest album, Rockstar, last year, which featured a number of collaborations with her fellow music legends, including Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John and Debbie Harry.

“I wanted it to be good, because I wanted rock artists to hear it and say, ‘Well, you know, that ain’t bad!’” Parton told The Independent in a recent interview.

“I thought it turned out really well. I’m proud of it!”

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