Dolly Parton Never Wanted ‘to Be Elvis,’ but Thinks They Share Some Major Similarities

Dolly Parton never met Elvis Presley, but she related to him on a deep level. In an interview the Queen of Country did with Playboy Magazine in 1978, she spoke about the ways in which she felt she and Presley were similar. She also said that she “would never want to be Elvis.”

A portrait of Dolly Parton in 1978 and portrait of Elvis Presley in the mid '60s.
Elvis Presley; Dolly Parton | Hulton Archive/Getty Images; CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Even though Parton never met Presley, she always felt a strong connection to him.

“I always felt that we were kin,” she told the magazine, according to the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. “I feel like I know exactly how he was. Every time he’d come in town, even if I was home, I just wouldn’t go, somethin’ always kept me from goin’. There were other people I liked to hear sing better, but there was nobody that I ever related to more.”

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So what was it about Presley that Parton related to so deeply?

“He was very loving, very emotional, very sensitive, very giving, very humble, thankful, grateful,” she said. “I always felt that he was totally in awe of his own success and he didn’t quite understand why he had been so chosen and why he was such an idol. How he felt about God and religion was always somethin’ I related to a lot, because I know he was brought up with his mother in the Assembly of God. It was a real free-spirited, shoutin’ church. I watched and heard how he reacted to Gospel music and how he loved that the best of all and how he almost seemed to feel he had a callin’ to do somethin’ different and maybe more spiritual than what he actually was doin’, but you know, he never got a chance to try.”

Parton, herself, has always been “very, very spiritual.”

Dolly Parton on the end of Elvis Presley’s career

The “Jolene” singer also touched on the final chapter of Presley’s career.

“He touched people’s lives in a lot of ways,” she said. “He was the sex symbol of the world and when he started gainin’ weight and gettin’ fat, he lost a lot of his glamor to a lot of people. I always thought his manager was brilliant, as well. They built that mystery up about him. When he started losin’ his glamor and doin’ those concerts, he became more ordinary. That’s when they started publishing all the things about him. Then people realized that he was not a god of any sort, but he was just an extraordinary human bein’.”

Parton went on to say that she suspected that if Presley hadn’t died when he did, “within the next five years he wouldn’t have been a hero at all, because he was talked about too much . . . seen too much.”

“That’s how cruel the public can be,” she added.

The next Elvis

The interviewer asked Parton if she thought there will ever be another Elvis — in particular, if there will ever be a “female Elvis.”

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“That is possible,” she said. “I think there is due a person, a female, which there has never been. A person of that type, with that great magnetism and that great mysterious thing, that great love, that charisma and magic to draw people to her, that can help people in many ways just through her music. Yes, I think that a female is due, I do. And your next question: Do I think it is me?”

The “9 to 5” singer began by stating “I would never be an Elvis” and “I would never want to be Elvis.”

“But I would like to be a person truly loved enough to be able to have that much of an impact on people as far as bein’ able to guide them or help them or let them see that you’re caring,” she said.