On This Day: Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” Hits No. 1

June 8 hasn’t been a particularly busy day for country music through the years. However, it was quite a big day for Queen of Country Dolly Parton

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On June 8, 1974, her song “I Will Always Love You” finally hit no. 1 on the country charts. Parton was already a big name at the time, but the charting hit cemented her status as a country starlet and catapulted her career to the top.

The History of “I Will Always Love You”

The origins of the hit 1974 ballad are a little bit sad. Parton wrote the song for her mentor Porter Wagoner as a sort of “breakup” song. Wagoner watched Parton’s career grow over seven years as a staple musician on his television program The Porter Wagoner Show. They recorded quite a few albums together as well. Unfortunately, all great partnerships must come to an end. 

In order to get somewhere with her career, Parton needed to move on to bigger and better things. So, she penned the heartfelt song about her unwavering love for Wagoner. And we can confidently say few have written a love song for their boss before quitting their job since.

Unfortunately, parting ways wasn’t easy. Wagoner didn’t want Parton to leave, but he did insist on producing the track for her. The pair would later duke it out in court over a legal battle started by Wagoner.

“It’s saying, ‘Just because I’m going don’t mean I won’t love you,” Parton said about the song. “‘I appreciate you, and I hope you do great, and I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m out of here.'”

What was originally meant to be a private goodbye ended up being a massive hit. On June 8, 1974, mere weeks after the song was released, it hit no. 1 on the country charts. It hit the charts again a few years later in 1982 when it was rereleased. This also made history, since Parton was the very first musician to hit no. 1 two separate times for the same exact song. Years later in 1992, Whitney Houston would bring the song to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for her rendition of “I Will Always Love You”, where it would stay for a whopping 14 weeks. 

To this day, Parton’s song is still the best-selling song from a female musician of all time. And she’s enjoyed quite the career since releasing the heartfelt ballad.

Photo by David Redfern

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