The Real Reason Elvis Never Recorded 'I Will Always Love You'

It goes without saying that Dolly Parton is one of music's most gifted songwriters. After all, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 for penning more than 700 songs — yes, 700!

While many know the country superstar for her hit singles "Jolene," "9 to 5," and "Islands In The Stream," she also wrote and originally released "I Will Always Love You" back in 1974. Nearly two decades later, the song became a global smash when deceased icon Whitney Houston covered the track for "The Bodyguard" soundtrack in 1992. Aside from being a No. 1 single on the US Hot 100, it was also named the sixth-best love song of all time by Billboard in 2014. At the 1993 Grammy Awards, Houston's rendition took home two golden trophies, including Record of the Year.

In a 2020 interview on "The Graham Norton Show," Parton reminisced over the time she first heard Houston's version of the song, giving her "one of the most overwhelming feelings I've ever had." Parton also admitted that Houston made the song bigger than what it originally was. Even though Parton is grateful for Houston's iconic version, she recently opened up about the time another deceased music legend — Elvis Presley — nearly covered the song. Keep reading to find out more.

Dolly Parton's decision to not give Elvis Presley her song left her very emotional

In a new cover story for W magazine, Dolly Parton admitted the iconic song "I Will Always Love You" that she wrote was nearly given to Elvis Presley to record. However, she didn't go ahead with the idea when Presley's manager asked Parton to cough up half of her publishing rights. "I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't give you the publishing.' I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart — I cried all night," the "Coats of Many Colors" hitmaker said. "But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business!"

"Everybody's going to use you if they can," Parton continued. "These are my songs — they're like my children. And I expect them to support me when I'm old!" Despite never recording the song, "I Will Always Love You" ended up playing a big part in Presley's life. "Priscilla, Elvis's wife, told me that when she and Elvis divorced, Elvis sang my song to her," Parton revealed. "That touched me so deeply. And they also played the song at Whitney Houston's funeral. After that, I thought, I bet they'll play the same song when I go."

As noted by Forbes in 2020, Whitney Houston's version of the song earned Parton a whopping $10 million in the 1990s alone. It looks like Parton made the right call to keep those publishing rights!