Dolly Parton Reveals What She Told Elle King After Drunk Opry Performance

UPDATE, 2/15/24 at 12:43 p.m.:

Dolly Parton further addressed Elle King’s drunken Grand Ole Opry performance, revealing that she spoke to the younger singer shortly after the incident.

“Elle King is a doll,” Parton told E! News in an interview published on Thursday, February 15. “I called her and I said, ‘You know, there are many F-words. Why don’t we use the right one? Forgiveness, friends, forget it.’”

Parton went on to say that King “made a mistake” but doesn’t deserve to be vilified for it. “She feels worse about it than anybody,” the country legend added. “But she’s a talented girl. She’s going through some hard times, and I think she just had a little too much to drink and then that just hit her. So, we need to get over that because she’s a great artist and a great person.”

Original story continues below:

Dolly Parton isn’t upset about Elle King’s drunken Grand Ole Opry performance last month — and she doesn’t think fans should be either.

“Elle is really a great artist,” the “Jolene” singer, 78, recently told Extra when asked about King’s headline-making performance at a birthday tribute concert for Parton. “She’s a great girl and she’s been going through a lot of hard things lately.”

Parton admitted that King, 34, “just had a little too much to drink” at the event, but she doesn’t want anyone to hold that against the “Ex’s & Oh’s” artist. “Let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on, ’cause she felt worse than anybody ever could,” Parton said.

King caused a stir in January when she performed Parton’s song “Marry Me” at a birthday tribute concert for the country icon held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. According to social media footage from the event, King slurred her words and shouted “f–k” multiple times during her set and told the crowd she was inebriated.

“You ain’t getting your money back,” King said after a heckler yelled at her from the audience. “I’ll tell you one thing more: Hi, my name is Elle King, [and] I’m f–king hammered.”

Dolly Parton Asks Fans to Move On After Elle King Drunken Opry Tribute
Elle King Jason Davis/Getty Images

After the performance, the Opry issued an apology on King’s behalf. “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance,” read a statement shared via the iconic venue’s X account.

King hasn’t publicly commented on the incident, but days after the event, she postponed five tour dates in Texas, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Her next scheduled concert is an appearance at the Extra Innings Festival in Tempe, Arizona, on March 1.

Elle King’s Ups and Downs Through the Years

King has previously opened up about how drinking helps her with her stage fright. “I really like to drink and sing. I don’t want to get as drunk as I used to,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune in February 2022. “It’s easier for me to say: ‘Yeah, I want to drink and party and [then] go on stage.’ I get nervous before I go on stage, [so] I have a couple of drinks [first]. Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don’t make them, it won’t sting as much.”

While King has always incorporated country elements in her music, her last album, 2023’s Come Get Your Wife, was a full-fledged country album.

“If anybody was wondering, ‘Why would Elle King make a country record?’ Well, I said, ‘OK, I’ll tell you. Just start with the first song,’” she told Country Now in March 2023. “So that’s why I wrote [the song] ‘Ohio,’ because I’m sharing where I come from, what I love about country music, and it’s also my love letter.”