No one can tell Dolly Parton what to do.
From the time Parton was just a little child prodigy singing on her front porch, performing for the chickens and her siblings, she knew she wanted to be a famous singer. But she wanted to do it her way. At that time, it was uncommon for women country singers to have a solo act. That didn’t stop young Parton from dreaming big. On her way to the top, the “Jolene” singer received a lot of advice on how to make it in the music business. She listened to some of it, and some of it she disregarded.
Dolly Parton’s record label told her not to get married
Parton met her husband, Carl Dean, on her first day in Nashville. They got married two years later in 1966. The Queen of Country hid her marriage from her record label, Monument Records, because her team, led by Fred Foster, told her that getting married would hurt her career.
“Fred Foster was going to invest in me as a young artist,” Parton wrote in her 2020 book, Songteller. “So I told him that I was thinking of getting married. He said, ‘No, you’re not getting married. You can’t get married, because I’m going to invest all this money and this is your big shot.’ So Carl and I went to Ringgold, Georgia, and got married. And didn’t tell Fred.”
Dolly Parton married her husband, Carl Dean, in secret
Dean’s mother wanted the couple to have a big wedding, but they kept things incredibly intimate with only Parton’s mother in attendance. They wed in Georgia — instead of Tennessee — where there was a lower likelihood that the papers would catch wind and report on it.
“Everyone at my label — Monument Records and Fred Foster — had invested money in me and in building my career, so they asked me if I’d wait a year to get married,” Parton told CMT. “And I didn’t want to not do what I was supposed to do. Carl’s mother was just heartbroken.”
About a year later, when Parton began to experience some major success, Foster asked Parton: “Now aren’t you glad you didn’t get married?”
“I’ve been married for two years,” she replied. “I got married the same weekend you told me not to!”
‘They don’t usually like for me to mention it’
After Parton’s label discovered she was married, they warned her against mentioning it in interviews. But, again, no one tells the Queen of Country what to do.
In an interview that took place in 1967, Music City News asked the then-21-year-old singer if she’d care to speak about her home life.
“No, I don’t care to,” she said. “They don’t usually like for me to mention it. Fred and them don’t really like for me to mention it or to emphasize it real big, but I got married a year ago, the thirtieth of last month, on Memorial Day last year. My husband’s name is Carl Dean. He and his father are in the asphalt paving business here in town. You might classify that as a contractor or whatever.”
“We’ll probably start our family or start tryin’ to have a family next summer because I need to do all this booking and everything now,” she continued. “I’m just getting started. But I’d like to have at least four children. I’d like to have six if we can afford it and if things go well . . . if everybody’s healthy and I got the energy to take care of ’em! [Laughs] I’ll know after the first one!”