Dolly Parton Revealed Why She and Kenny Rogers Never Dated: ‘I Couldn’t Catch Him Between Wives!’

Though Dolly Parton and her husband, Carl Dean, have been married for decades, she’s faced rumors of affairs for much of her career. One such story involves her friend and collaborator, Kenny Rogers. Parton has denied these rumors and specifically explained why she and Rogers never got together. Both artists had a laundry list of reasons why a romantic relationship wouldn’t have worked.

Kenny Rogers wears a gray shirt and stands behind Dolly Parton, who wears a black jacket and shirt.
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton | Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers became friends when they started touring together

In 1983, Parton was still riding the success of her film debut in 9 to 5. Rogers, who was struggling to breathe life into his song “Islands in the Stream,” invited Parton to record with him. The resulting song was a hit, and Parton and Roger began touring together.

“We had met before ‘Islands,’ but we weren’t friends,” People reported that Rogers said at the time.

“We became friends when we started working together, and touring,” Parton added.

On tour, Parton and Rogers solidified a friendship that would last a lifetime. Parton believes that the time they spent together made them realize how similar they were.

“We’d eat, hang out, and we found we really liked each other,” she said. “It was a wonderful group of people. My band members, his band members, everybody was like family. Kenny was always like a relative to me.”

The pair never dated 

Despite the closeness that formed between the two of them, they both say that their relationship never moved beyond friendship.

“I said we may have been tempted but we didn’t want to ruin a good friendship,” Rogers said. “I think it would have.”

In an interview with Today, Rogers said that they felt tension between them but thought it was better not to act on it.

“And then secondly, she said no to me,” he added.

“You know what, we were almost like brother and sister,” Parton added. “And it would almost be like incest. So we just never went there.”

Any potential relationship was also stymied by the fact that by the time they met, Parton had been married for nearly 20 years. Throughout his life, Rogers had five marriages.

“He’s been married about 40 times!” Parton joked. “I couldn’t catch him between wives!”

Dolly Parton shared an emotional message after Kenny Rogers’ death

Parton and Rogers remained friends long after their first duet. In their nearly 40 year friendship, they recorded more music and remained close.

“Kenny’s friendship means more to me than our hit records. Actually, we’re kind of soul mates,” People reported that Parton told CMT.

After his death in 2020, Parton shared an emotional message in Rogers’ memory.

“I know that we all know that Kenny’s in a better place than we are today but I’m for sure he’s going to be talking to God some time today if he’s ain’t already, and going to be asking him to spread some light onto this darkness going on here,” she said in a video message. “But I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart’s broken and a big ole chunk has gone with him today.”

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