One of the keys to Dolly's success is owning the rights to all her music. She's never given up the copyright to any song—even when Elvis Presley came calling.
Decades ago, Dolly says she learned Elvis wanted to record a version of "I Will Always Love You," which had already been a hit for Dolly. "I was so excited. I told everybody Elvis is singing 'I Will Always Love You'," she says. "So the day of the session they'd invited me down, [Elvis' manager] Colonel Tom calls me and says, 'You know we don't record any songs that we don't get half the publishing of.'"
Dolly's heart sank. "I thought, 'Oh, no, that's already been a hit and that's what I'm leaving for my family.' It had nothing to do with Elvis, because hopefully he was disappointed too," she says. "But I just wouldn't let him have the publishing."
Watch Dolly dedicate "I Will Always Love You" to Oprah.
In 1992, Whitney Houston's label agreed to her terms, and a new version of "I Will Always Love You" skyrocketed to the top of the charts. "I thought, 'Well, good, I'm glad I kept it,'" she says. "But I would have still loved to have heard Elvis sing it. Can you imagine?"
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