Jan. 19, 1946
Dolly Rebecca Parton is born in Sevierville, Tenn., the fourth of 12 children of Avie Lee and Robert Lee Parton, a tobacco farmer. Lineage means she is related to roughly 88 2/3 percent of population of Sevier County today, depending on number of tourists in Pigeon Forge at any given moment.
Lil’ Dolly makes her first guitar out of an old mandolin, two bass guitar strings, used chewing gum, and dirt. Okay, we made up the chewing gum and dirt part, but it makes for a better story, doesn’t it?
Now 10, Dolly quickly becomes a regular, singing on Cas Walker’s radio and television shows in Knoxville. A replica of one of Cas’ grocery stores still stands at Dollywood.
Parton records “Puppy Love” on Goldband Records at age 11; it’s released two years later but doesn’t get much radio airplay. Co-written with her uncle Bill Owens, the song finally gets her some royalty checks when Donny Osmond has a hit with it in 1972.
Parton makes her first appearance at the Grand Old Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Introduced by Johnny Cash, she performs his “You Gotta Be My Baby” and gets three encores.
Parton and Owens are signed to Tree Publishing and Mercury Records in Nashville. She records a tune they co-wrote, her first single on a major label, “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt.” And it sure did. Single bombs and they’re dropped.
Dolly graduates Sevier County High School and moves to Nashville the next day. She meets future husband Carl Dean, an asphalt paver, at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat. Dean’s pick-up line: “You’re gonna get sunburnt out there, little lady.” All true—we couldn’t make up anything this good.
May 30, 1966
Dolly marries Carl Dean. Must’ve been all that smooth talk.
Bill Phillips makes the top 10 with recordings of two Parton/Owens songs, “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” and “The Company You Keep.”
Jan. 21, 1967
Parton first appears on the Billboard country charts with two singles recorded for Monument: “Dumb Blonde” (number 24) and “Something Fishy” (number 17).
Hello, I’m Dolly, her first full-length album, is released on Monument Records.
Sept. 5, 1967
Parton’s first appearance on The Porter Wagoner Show.
Parton and Wagoner’s duet version of “The Last Thing on My Mind” enters Billboard’s country chart, hitting number seven.
Parton and Wagoner’s first duet album, Just Between You and Me, is released on RCA.
Parton’s first solo single for RCA, “Just Because I’m a Woman,” is released. This is also the title of her first solo album for the label. Preliminary working title for follow-up album is “Doesn’t Mean You Can @#$% With Me.” Later nixed.
Parton and Wagoner win the Country Music Association award for Vocal Group of the Year, as well as the Music City News award for Duet of the Year. Also nominated for Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Obi, Tony, Nobel Peace Prize, and Fumbutch County (La.) Catfish Grabblers of the Year, but don’t win.
Dolly Parton is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Porter Waggoner takes first crack at recording “Coat of Many Colors.” We coulda told Port this wouldn’t work out for him.
Parton’s solo version of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)” reaches number three on the Billboard country charts, despite protests from the ASPCA.
Parton’s solo single “Joshua” becomes her first number-one hit.
Parton records “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on successive days. Later jokes that she used “Jolene” royalties to purchase breast implants; concert photos from the 1960s establish that this is patently false.
“Jolene” reaches number one on the country charts and number 60 on the pop charts. In April, Parton quits the Porter Wagoner television and road shows. In June, she performs her last concert with Porter.
With follow-up success of “I Will Always Love You,” Terminator robots from 21st century travel back in time, in an attempt to eliminate a young Whitney Houston before it’s too late. They fail.
Parton wins the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year award. Still no dice on Grabbler of the Year.
Dolly, Parton’s syndicated television show, premieres, and stinks. Lasts seven episodes.
Dolly’s single “Here You Come Again” hits number three on the pop charts and holds the number one spot on the country charts for five straight weeks. In May, she makes a three-night stand at the Bottom Line in New York—Mick Jagger, Bruce Springstein, and John Belushi are in the audience. Days later, her audience is the Queen of England at a performance in Scotland.
Dolly’s 1977 New Harvest ... First Gathering, her first self-produced album, goes platinum, making her the first female country artist to sell a million copies. International He-Man Woman Haters Club issues statement calling it “just dumb luck.”
Here You Come Again earns Parton her first Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female.
The movie 9 to 5 is released, with Parton earning Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best New Film Star, and Best Original Song and an Oscar nomination for the title song. Catches heat from conservative country fans for appearing in movie with “that Commie b!&$# Jane Fonda.”
The song “9 to 5,” released as a single in November 1980, reaches number one on the Billboard country chart in January and number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in February. Parton wins Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female and Best Country Song and wins her first Academy of Country Music Female Vocalist of the Year award. Fumbutch (La.) County voters remain unimpressed.
Parton stars in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds. Her remake of “I Will Always Love You” for the soundtrack earns a Grammy nomination.
Dolly’s star is set in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Days later, Rhinestone debuts, a feature film in which she co-stars with renowned professional doughhead and world-class mumbler Sylvester Stallone. Fortunately, Walk of Fame officials rule sidewalk stars cannot be rescinded.
Andy Warhol is commissioned by then-Parton manager Sandy Gallin to paint Dolly—but the likeness is so jarring (“I looked more like Bill Monroe,” quipped Dolly), Gallin weasels out of buying them. Warhol is probably furious, but no one can really tell.
Parton is inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
May 3, 1986
Dollywood opens in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to the delight of trailer park denizens—and gay theme park enthusiasts—everywhere..
Trio, with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, hits the top 10 as a pop album and gets a Grammy and ACM Album of the Year.
For the first time since they split, Dolly and Porter Whatshisface perform a duet together.
Steel Magnolias debuts in theaters, starring Dolly and a bunch of actresses pretending to be Southern. The film is a big hit, even with potential male viewers avoiding it in droves.
The album Eagle When She Flies earns Parton another number-one hit: ”Rocking Years,” with Ricky Van Shelton. Parton is Billboard’s all-time top female country artist, the only woman to chart number-one records in three different decades.
The Terminator failed. Whitney Houston records Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”—in which she screeches the chorus hideously and incessantly at the top of her crack-ravaged lungs for approximately 368 bars—for her film The Bodyguard. The recording sets a then-record of 14 weeks at number one. The future is lost.
Parton releases Honky Tonk Angels with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, the first album to be released through Columbia and Parton’s own record label, Blue Eye.
Parton releases Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, which is a New York Times bestseller.
July 5, 1996
Dolly, the ewe cloned from a mammary gland, is named for Dolly Parton.
Dolly’s first bluegrass album, The Grass Is Blue, is a darling of the critics—and a first for her on the independent label Sugar Hill Records and her own Blue Eye Records.
Dolly is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Fumbutch (La.) grudgingly relents, and places her in contention for a Lifetime Achievement award for excellence in catfish grabbling.
The Grass Is Blue wins a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. Parton releases bluegrass- and folk-based Little Sparrow, another critical and commercial success.
Parton goes on tour for the first time in a decade. Her third bluegrass-influenced CD, Halos & Horns, includes a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Hell freezes over.
Parton’s efforts to preserve the bald eagle through the American Eagle Foundation’s sanctuary at Dollywood earn her the Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Through her publicist, she tells Fumbutch (La.) County to suck one.
April 13, 2004
Parton accepts the Living Legend Medal from the Library of Congress.
Excited by the prospect of actually touching Billy Ray Cyrus’ mullet, Parton plays Aunt Dolly on the Hannah Montana television show. Dolly will reprise the role for 2009’s Hannah Montana movie.
Parton sings not one note at the Kennedy Center Honors in her honor. Thankfully, neither does Whitney Houston.
Dolly’s European tour 2007 takes in just over $16 million for 21 sold-out shows.
Diane Duffin’s stereo, DVD player, television, computer and CD collection were confiscated by police after the 36-year-old woman’s neighbors in Leeds in northern England complained that she blasted Dolly Parton hits at top volume for several months. Duffin claims she wasn’t going to bother, until The Bodyguard soundtrack fell into rotation.
The wedding singer: Dolly walks her aunt, Dorothy Jo Parton, 78, down the aisle and gives her away when she marries “Bill.”
Dolly performs “Jesus and Gravity” on an episode of American Idol, then helps coach nine contestants who sing Parton-penned songs for another elimination round: “Jolene,” “Little Sparrow,” “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” “Travelin’ Thru,” “Smoky Mountain Memories,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right.” Simon Cowell acts like a dick.
Feb. 26, 2008
Dolly releases Backwoods Barbie, which features a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “Drive Me Crazy.” The album peaks at number two on the country charts and number 17 on the pop charts.
Dolly adds her vocals to “Do You Know” on Jessica Simpson’s debut country album, a song she also wrote.
9 to 5: The Musical debuts in Los Angeles. A musical based on a Dolly Parton movie—drag queens everywhere rejoice.