Elle King at C2C Festival 2024

Elle King Opens Up Regarding Dolly Parton Tribute Incident on 'Dear Chelsea'

May 22, 2024 10:05 pm GMT

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Elle King has spoken out about what led to her alcohol-fueled performance at the Grand Ole Opry in January, which occurred during a tribute concert for Dolly Parton’s 78th birthday. The 'Drunk (And I Don’t Want To Go Home)' singer expressed deep regret, saying she was “mortified” by her actions that night.

During an interview on Chelsea Handler’s Dear Chelsea podcast, King discussed the evening, which drew criticism after video footage circulated showing her admitting to the audience that she was “hammered” while cursing and forgetting the lyrics to Parton’s song 'Marry Me.' The event led the venue to apologize to attendees on Twitter after complaints rolled in.

King wasn't originally scheduled to headline the show, but agreed at the last minute when the scheduled headliner canceled just hours prior. Despite saying she was prepared to perform, she admitted to drinking excessively, taking full responsibility for her actions, saying: “The Grand Ole Opry is a sacred stage and I messed up.”

The singer-songwriter also shared the personal struggles that led to her behavior that night, revealing that she had been silently coping with PTSD and had neither slept nor eaten for several days prior to the event. This combination of factors, she explains, contributed to her excessive drinking and subsequent performance issues.

King did not delve into specific details about the events that triggered her struggle with PTSD, but she has previously spoken about her battles with depression and substance abuse. She acknowledged her responsibility for her actions, noting: “Regardless of what was happening in my life, I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation, but I shouldn’t have been drinking.”

Although Parton was not present at the event, many, including Parton’s sister, Stella, deemed King’s actions “disrespectful.” However, Parton herself did not express any upset toward King and offered her grace during that difficult time. After receiving an apology letter from King, Parton personally contacted her to offer kind words and encouragement.

“Dolly called me and said, ‘Well, Dolly’s not mad at you, why should the world be?’" King offered.

In February, Parton used her platform to encourage the public to show King the same grace. She highlighted that King was more remorseful about it than anyone else and cleared the air with ExtraTV saying, “She's a great girl. She's been going through a lot and just had a bit too much to drink.”

The incident serves as a reminder that even well-known artists may be grappling with unseen struggles. Before the podcast ended, King made sure to provide any closure she could to those who sought it with a sincere apology: “For all the people who are asking for an apology from me, if you were there that night and I didn’t get a chance to say I’m sorry to you, I apologize.”

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