But 60 years ago, she was an just an aspiring singer performing in a parking lot. And for the first time, we’re getting a glimpse of what that looked like.
Archivist Bradley Reeves recently appeared on WBIR in Knoxville to debut some newly-uncovered footage of a 14-year old Dolly Parton.
The incredible video, captured in 1961 by Haroldine Worthington and filmed on a silent 8-mm home movie camera, shows the future country music legend strumming a guitar in a gas station parking lot in Fountain City, Tennessee, at an event held by TV and radio personality (and former Knoxville mayor) Cas Walker.
Walker, whose Farm and Home Hour variety show ran on radio and television from 1928 to 1983, helped launch the career of the future megastar when she first performed on his show at the age of 10.
The footage is accompanied by a studio recording of Dolly singing “Making Believe,” a chart-topping hit for Kitty Wells in 1955 that would later go on to be recorded by other country music legends such as Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Merle Haggard.
Dolly’s version was included on Hits Made Famous by Country Queens, her 1963 compilation album with Faye Tucker.
It’s pretty amazing that this footage has survived all these years, but it’s even more amazing to be able to see a young Dolly Parton, three years before she moved to Nashville and six years before she landed a spot on Porter Wagoner’s television show, just playing country music in a gas station parking lot.
If those people only knew what a legend that little high school girl with the big hair and angelic voice
would go on to become…
Dolly Parton Declines Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
But… it might be too late.
There’s still a chance Dolly Parton will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
She was nominated for the first time last month, along with Eminem, Lionel Richie, A Tribe Called Quest and Duran Duran, all as first-time nominees, which also included 17 other artists up for induction like Rage Against the Machine, Pat Benatar and Dionne Warwick. Eminem earned his nomination in his first year of eligibility.
And earlier this week, Dolly issued a lengthy statement, saying in part that she was electing to bow out of consideration because she didn’t feel like she had earned it:
“Dolly here! Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right.
I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”
And now, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is responding with their own lengthy statement, singing Dolly’s praises and essentially saying that it’s too late for her to withdrawal her consideration because ballots were already sent out earlier this month:
“All of us in the music community have seen Dolly Parton’s thoughtful note expressing her feeling that she has not earned the right to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to her incredible talent as an artist, her humility is another reason Dolly is a beloved icon by millions of fans.
From its inception, Rock & Roll has had deep roots in Rhythm & Blues and Country music. It is not defined by any one genre, rather a sound that moves youth culture. Dolly Parton’s music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless other artists that followed.
Her nomination to be considered for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame followed the same process as all other artists who have been considered.
Dolly’s nomination, along with the other 16 for the class of 2022 was sent out earlier this month to our 1,200 general ballot voters, the majority of whom are artists themselves, for consideration at our induction ceremony.
We are in awe of Dolly’s brilliant talent and pioneering spirit and are proud to have nominated her for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
This year’s final class will be officially announced in May, and artists must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years before they’re eligible for induction.
The induction ceremony is currently planned for the fall, with date and venue announcements coming in the future, so we’ll see soon if Dolly ends up with a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after all.
Now, after her classy and humble move in saying she wanted to put a rock album out before she is nominated again so she can really earn it (which I really hope she still does), I want her in the HOF even more now.