Elle King’s drunken Dolly Parton tribute triggers Grand Ole Opry apology

While on stage at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry on Friday night, singer Elle King, who admitted she was drunk, stunned some audience members with her botched, cuss-filled tribute to Dolly Parton.

“You bought tickets for this sh—t? You ain’t getting your money back,” the 34-year-old singer slurred to the crowd attending the family-friendly billed event to honour Parton’s 78th birthday.

King’s behaviour on stage prompted an apology from the Grand Ole Opry the day after her performance at Ryman Auditorium.

The Opry replied to criticism from one audience member on X (formerly called Twitter) who said King put on a “horrible, drunk, and profane performance.”

The Opry responded, “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance.”

The audience member — who said he spent US$300 on his ticket — wrote that he wished country singer Lauren Alaina, who was pulled from the Opry show due to “unforeseen circumstances,” had performed instead of King.

King’s performance, including her rendition of Parton’s song Marry Me, has since gone viral online, with many complaining King “ruined” the evening, which featured numerous country performers.

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While singing, King forgot words. She altered Parton’s lyrics to include “I don’t give a sh—t” and “Don’t tell Dolly ‘cause it’s her birthday.”

(Disclaimer: The video below contains strong language.) 

After the pitchy Marry Me performance, King addressed the crowd.

In a thick country accent, the California-born singer responded to hecklers and said she was “f—ing hammered.”

When a bandmate on stage suggested King sing one of her own songs rather than Parton’s, King shot back with “I can barely play another person’s song, let me see if I can play one of mine.”

(Disclaimer: The video below contains strong language.) 


I think Elle King just ended here career. I cant imagine disrespecting Dolly at the @Grand Ole Opry on Dollys birthday 🤦🏼‍♀️ I hope Elle gets the help she needs cause this does not pass the vibe check. **This is not my video** • • • #thegrandoleopry #drunk #elleking #ellekingmusic #Tennessee #fyp #foryoupage #foryoupageofficiall #fypシ #fypシ゚viral

♬ original sound – Victoria

Patron did not attend the Opry show.

King has not addressed the incident publicly, though her social media accounts have since been flooded with comments from angry country music fans who felt she’d disrespected both the musical genre and Parton herself.

Others felt King’s behaviour on stage was a cry for help.

King has previously been open about her substance abuse issues and in 2022 told The San Diego Union-Tribune she is not a stranger to drinking while on stage.

“The music I made stone cold sober and organically has been some of my favorite music I’ve ever created. It doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the music I made when I wasn’t completely sober, but do I want to go back in time to who I was and give her a hug? Yeah, I do,” she said.

“Everything is about moving forward. But at the same time, I really like to drink and sing. I don’t want to get as drunk as I used to,” she continued. “I get nervous before I go on stage, (so) I have couple of drinks (first). Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don’t make them, it won’t sting as much.”

King, who has found commercial success in the pop-rock genre, made a transition to country music with her 2023 album Come Get Your Wife. Her single Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home), which features Miranda Lambert, topped the number one spot on the Country Airplay chart.

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