Dolly Parton Says Johnny Cash Was Her First Crush: “He Was So Magnetic, So Sexy”

Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton country music
Don Hunstein

Dolly Parton is a national treasure.

Funny, charming, a straight shooter… Dolly is 100% herself every second of the day. And when you ask her a question, you can always count on the truth.

A while back, Dolly sat down with Jane Graham for The Big Issue and dove into everything from her childhood and family life, to her career in country music, her song “Jolene,” Elvis, the Grand Ole Opry, her first crush, and more.

And who was her first crush?

The great Johnny Cash.

“I was about 13 when I first met Johnny Cash and that’s when Johnny was all strung out on drugs and everything, but he was so magnetic, so sexy. He was my first male grown-up crush, he just really moved me.

That’s when I realized what hormones do and what sex appeal really means. He just kind of stirred me somehow. And so I guess that’s when I realized I was becoming a little woman.

Oh, we laughed about it through the years. I told him, you know you were my very first crush, my first sexy grown-up crush. He always got a kick out of that.”

Back in the early ’80s, Dolly took part in a gospel record with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Brenda Lee, which was eventually turned into a television special hosted by Johnny Cash.

Here’s a clip of Dolly and Cash sharing the stage from that special.

Watch 14-Year-Old Dolly Parton Perform At A Gas Station

Today, Dolly Parton is country music royalty.

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…

Shop the ’90s Country Collection from Whiskey Riff Shop.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock