“Through the years I thought one day I’d do a rock record”: Dolly Parton on why she’s made an album with Paul McCartney, Rob Halford, Stevie Nicks and more

Dolly Parton at Glastonbury
(Image credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Living legend Dolly Parton hasn’t got anything to prove to anyone but upon the country icon’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2022, she wanted to show she was worthy of the status. It’s what’s led to her new record Rockstar, an album featuring a dazzling array of guest stars including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks, Steven Tyler, Peter Frampton and more. Parton graces the cover of the new issue of Classic Rock and in a mammoth interview inside the magazine, she explains her thinking behind the new record.

“I accepted gracefully,” Parton explains of her induction into the Hall Of Fame, “but I thought: ‘Well, I’m gonna have to earn it’, because I’m like my daddy, I don’t want nothing I ain’t earned. Through the years I’d thought that I might one day do a rock album. And timing is everything. So that’s really what motivated me to record Rockstar, because I had pretty much given up on the idea, because of my age. That’s when I thought: ‘No, I’m gonna do it.’”

Whilst Parton is taking her first steps into the rock world aged 77, she says it’s been part of her life the whole time. “I’ve been rockin’ since the day I was born,” she tells Classic Rock's Rob Hughes, “listening to Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and all these people that I loved in my youth. And so I just kind of put together a little song to explain that whole experience of going into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I was thinking back to those days, when I used to carry around my little transistor radio.”

To read the full interview, including how Dolly approached covering Stairway To Heaven, her memories of playing Glastonbury as well as interviews with Peter Frampton, Richie Sambora and Rob Halford on collaborating with her, pick up a copy of the new issue of Classic Rock here.

The cover of Classic Rock 321

(Image credit: Future)
Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.