Music

Dolly Parton Says She’s Turned Down Super Bowl Halftime Show ‘Many Times’

Dolly Parton has no problem saying no to big offers. Whether it’s giving a firm no thank you to Elvis Presley when his manager asked for the half the publishing on “I Will Always Love You” for the honor of the King recording her song to initially declining induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Parton isn’t afraid to stick to her guns.

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Even when the NFL comes calling, which they have, several times. Parton told The Hollywood Reporter that she’s turned down playing the coveted Super Bowl halftime gig several times, and for very good reasons.

“Oh, sure. I’ve been offered that many times,” Parton told THR of turning her back on one of the most high-profile gigs in music. “I couldn’t do it because of other things, or I just didn’t think I was big enough to do it — to do that big of a production. When you think about those shows, those are big, big productions. I’ve never done anything with that big of a production. I don’t know if I could have. I think at the time that’s what I was thinking.”

Had Parton said yes, she would have joined a very small roster of country stars who’ve taken the stage for what is typically the highest-rated broadcast TV program of the year, a list that includes 1994’s “Rockin’ Country Sunday” line-up with Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Wynonna & Naomi Judd and Shania Twain (with No Doubt and Sting) in 2003.

But with her first-ever rock album, Rockstar, due out on Nov. 17, Parton said she’s thinking about blow-out performances in a much different way. “It would make more sense,” she said of playing the blow-out gig that will host Usher on Feb. 11, 2024 in Las Vegas. “That might change. I might be able to do a production show.”

The singer who has won 10 Grammys, been nominated for two Oscars and placed 25 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart is about to move into uncharted territory with the 30-song album, which features a handful of originals and collaborations on rock classics with everyone from Paul McCartney and Elton John to Stevie Nicks, Sting, Joan Jett, Ringo Starr, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Emmylou Harris, Lizzo, P!nk, Brandie Carlile and more.

After initially turning down the offer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because she said it didn’t feel like the right fit, Parton was inducted last year after gaining a better understanding of how the Hall works. “They’re going to put me in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and somebody like Meat Loaf or some of these other great artists never even made it?’ I didn’t want to take away from somebody that has spent their life in that world like I had spent mine in country [music],” she told THR.

But after learning how the invitation process works, and seeing the variety of acts who’ve been inducted, from rappers (Jay-Z, The Beastie Boys) to pop icons (Madonna, Janet Jackson) — not to mention this year’s class featuring fellow country legend Willie Nelson, rapper/producer Missy Elliott and late pop star George Michael — she now gets it. “They told me all the ways that people’s music has influenced other people around the world … and told me about other people that were in it besides rock. Then I accepted it,” she said.

“But I still didn’t feel great about it. I still thought I needed to earn it,” she said. “That’s why I thought, ‘Well, timing is perfect. There’s a real reason for me to do this rock ‘n’ roll album. Here I am a rock star at 77.’”

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