On Friday night, the Grand Ole Opry, a historic country music venue in Nashville, held an evening-long tribute to Dolly Parton in honor of the legend’s 78th birthday. For most people who attended, though, the biggest takeaway of the night was a messy, expletive-filled performance by Elle King, who bungled Parton’s lyrics and confessed to being drunk onstage.
King, who’s the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider and was until now best known for her 2015 song “Ex’s and Oh’s,” appeared alongside fellow country singers Ashley Monroe and Terri Clark in the evening’s slate of events. In videos of her time onstage, she abandons trying to remember the lyrics to “Marry Me,” saying, “This shit is fucking fast, how’d Dolly sing this shit?” and then, on a later line, singing, “I don’t know the lyrics, don’t tell Dolly ’cause it’s her birthday.”
After the song, she slurred into the mic, “Y’all bought tickets for this shit. You ain’t gettin’ your money back.” She then performed one of her own songs, introducing it with, “I can barely play another person’s song; let me see if I can play one of mine.” Finally, before heading offstage, she signed off with, “Hi, my name is Elle King and I’m fuckin’ hammered.”
#ElleKing has fallen into some controversy after her performance at the 'Opry Goes Dolly' event on Friday night, during which the singer admitted to being drunk during her performance. The Opry, who hosted the evening as a special birthday celebration for Dolly Parton, has issued an apology on social media in response. #ElleKing #CountryMusic #DollyParton #Opry♬ original sound - Holler
As you have probably guessed, King’s sloppy tribute to one of the most beloved country singers of all time did not go over well. Some fans mentioned there were young children in the audience, claiming that King cursed “about 15 times.” Other commenters questioned why King spoke and sang with a Southern twang despite having grown up in New York, Ohio, and L.A.
One of Dolly’s sisters, Stella Parton, wrote on X, “I’m still stewing and thinking bout how any lil spoiled brat with an opportunity to sing on the Opry to pay tribute to a legendary songwriter like Dolly Parton would just piss on the star circle on the stage. Taylor Swift wouldn’t.”
The venue responded to one of the ticked-off tweets, writing, “We deeply regret and apologize for the language used during last night’s second Opry performance.” As for Dolly, she doesn’t seem bothered by the Nashville tribute fiasco — since her birthday, she’s been busy promoting her new cake mix line and listening to rock music. Happy belated, queen!