Whitney Houston vs Dolly Parton: Who should claim ‘I Will Always Love You?’
From Kentucky and beyond, the entertainment world was shaken just a week ago with the death of Whitney Houston. Besides what caused Whitney’s death, one of the most asked questions was if the song I Will Always Love You belongs to Houston or Dolly Parton. Shortly after her death, sales for the song skyrocketed.
Dolly Parton originally wrote I Will Always Love You when she was leaving the Porter Waggoner Show. The song would hit number one twice for Dolly Parton on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart. It was written on the aspect of a relationship was ending mutually, rather than in turmoil. I Will Always Love You turned out to be one of Dolly Parton’s signature hit songs.
Dolly Parton would perform I Will Always Love You multiple times for movies and tv specials. Shortly before Porter Waggoner passed away, she sang a tearful rendition at the Grand Ole Opry in his honor. Dolly also performed the song on the Nate Berkus Show in memory of a fan from Kentucky who had passed away after giving birth to twins.
Whitney Houston starred in the film The Bodyguard and sing I Will Always Love You. Once again, the song climbed up to the charts for 14 weeks and it would become a poignant song for Whitney Houston. Many fans would immediately think of I Will Always Love You when thinking of Whitney Houston’s career.
Only a few hours after Houston’s death on February 11, 2012, I Will Always Love You topped the U.S. iTunes Charts. Also, that same week after her death, the single returned to the Billboard Hot 100, after almost 20 years, at number 7, becoming a posthumous Top Ten single for Houston. It debuted on the Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart at number 3 on the chart dated February 25, 2012 with over 195,000 copies downloaded.
Many tabloids attempted to make a feud among fans based on a quote that Dolly Parton made to Billboard on the day of Whitney Houston’s passing. Dolly Parton said to Billboard, “Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston, I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.’”
With Dolly Parton saying “my song,” many felt that the song was both hers and Whitney’s even though Dolly originally wrote it. According to Perez Hilton, Parton would later respond to critics with, “I did not know Whitney, nor any of her family personally; but she will always be a part of my heart and I will always be grateful for her awesome performance and success with our song. My heart is with Whitney and her family as they lay her to rest… I Will Always Love You.”
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.