Why Dolly Parton was warned against covering Led Zeppelin

dolly parton - led zeppelin

For Dolly Parton, the year before was exceptional. She not only reaffirmed her position as a compelling voice for the people, but she also released an album full of delicious cover songs. She was recognized as a respected artist in her own right and for her skill at reinterpreting others’ songs. But her husband warned her against covering a specific band.

Parton’s first foray into rock music was Rockstar. The album included endearing covers by rock luminaries. It ranges from Debbie Harry and Stevie Nicks to Paul McCartney and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Despite her country music roots, the album unquestionably demonstrated Parton’s ability to provide world-class versatility. However, it turns out Parton’s friends and family aren’t all die-hard country music enthusiasts, even when she’s the one performing.

Her husband, a key figure in her inner circle, tried to warn her against covering rock legends Led Zeppelin. Dolly Parton delved into the backstory of the anthemic covers found on Rockstar in an interview with Classic Rock. She talked about her interpretation of arguably Led Zeppelin’s biggest hit. She stated that her husband, Carl Dean, is “a huge fan of Led Zeppelin and thinks ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is one of the classic songs of all time.”

Dean “was kind of concerned about me [covering the song]”. It was because he was such a big fan of the song, she explained.

“He said, ‘I don’t know if you need to mess with that, because I think you’ll get a lot of criticism,” she added. People don’t want other people messing around with that song.’ But I did it anyhow. And he made a joke about it at first: ‘I think that was more like ‘Stairwell To Hell’ than ‘Stairway To Heaven!’”

Dean’s reluctance to embrace Parton’s desire would have surprised most people. But it instead catalyzed the singer. Parton took it upon herself to create a version that did the original justice. She did so knowing Dean felt she couldn’t deliver a worthy rendition. “I wanted, more than anything, for Carl to know that I could do that too,” she said. “So I decided to stick to the form. And, I must add, Carl said, ‘Y’know, that’s pretty good.’ That’s quite a statement coming from him!”

Parton worked with a slew of big names to make the album as unique as possible. Parton expressed her admiration for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford and recounted their initial collaboration discussion with Eddie Trunk on SiriusXM. “I loved Rob Halford,” she said ” And we got to talk a lot because he went into the [Rock and Roll] Hall of Fame when I did.” So I got to see a lot of these people who are on the record… who were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time as I was.”

“I asked him if he would be willing to sing on my record if I called on him,” she continued. ‘I sure would, because my mother, grandmother, and children have all loved you over the years,’ he said. Parton then enlisted Halford for the song ‘Bygones,’ which also features Nikki Sixx and John 5. “I just thought it turned out to be something special.” “I thought it was a really good piece of music,” Parton concluded.

  1. NO….No….no…. Please don’t ever do that again. You have proven you can sing, no arguments about that. You just can’t do Led Zep/Robert Plant. Seriously, I couldn’t even get thru the first minute before wanting to stick ice picks into my ear drums. I just hope I can sleep tonight after this.

    1. she did a beautiful version of the song in country form and i think many plant fans would agree. Dolly is an amazing person and has such a sweet heart – thank you Dolly

  2. I myself think you really did a good job. To me it shows the love you have for the song and you did not try to sound like led zepplin but you did it the way you wanted to. I liked it.

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