Dolly Parton reacts to Elle King’s drunken tribute performance: ‘Forgive that and forget it’

Dolly Parton brushed off Elle King’s drunken performance at the Grand Ole Opry during her 78th birthday celebration in Nashville, Tenn., last month.

“Elle is really a great artist, she’s a great girl,” the “Jolene” singer told Extra TV in an interview published Friday.

“She’s been going through a lot of hard things lately and she just had too much to drink, so let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on ’cause she felt worse than anybody ever could.”

King stunned fans when she admitted that she was “f—ing hammered” before performing Parton’s 2001 hit song “Marry Me” at the country music hall on Jan. 19.

The “Ex’s & Oh’s” hitmaker, 34, slurred her words onstage and even messed up the lyrics, singing, “I don’t know the lyrics to this thing in this f—ing town. Don’t tell Dolly ’cause it’s her birthday.”

Reflecting on King’s viral performance at the Grand Ole Opry last month, the country music icon told Extra TV, “Elle is really a great artist, she’s a great girl.” TikTok / @auctioneergirl

King, who broke the Opry’s no-profanity rule, added, “I’m not even gonna f—ing lie, you bought tickets for this s—t? You ain’t getting your money back.”

She later attempted to sing one of her hits after warning the audience that she may not even remember her own lyrics.

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“I can barely play another person’s song; let me see if I can play one of mine,” she said.

Following King’s drunken behavior, the venue apologized for her foul “language” and messy performance.

“She’s been going through a lot of hard things lately, and she just had too much to drink,” Parton added. TikTok / @auctioneergirl

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

Days after the incident, it was revealed that the “America’s Sweetheart” singer had suddenly postponed her concert in Fort Worth, Texas, to September.

However, she is expected to take the stage again in March at the Extra Innings Festival.

“Let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on ’cause she felt worse than anybody ever could,” she continued. Getty Images

King has previously opened up about her alcohol intake before concerts.

“It’s easier for me to say: ‘Yeah, I want to drink and party and [then] go on stage,’” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2022.

“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.” 

She admitted she first struggled with substance abuse following her split from ex-husband Andrew Ferguson in 2017.

During the celebration, King drunkenly sang Parton’s hit song “Marry Me” while slurring her words and forgetting the lyrics. Instagram/elleking

At the time, the hitmaker told People she was “partying so hard to numb emotions that [she] couldn’t handle at the time.”

“I realized it was just prolonging the inevitable of dealing with them. And what you have to do, unfortunately, is just feel them, and that sucks,” she explained.

She added, “I thought that by doing drugs it would buy me time to feeling better. And when that wasn’t working, I just realized I was in this other cycle, and that I was creating it myself. And I realized I needed to cut all the darkness out of my life.”

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