Grand Ole Opry Apologizes Following Elle King’s Expletive-Laced Dolly Parton Cover

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grand ole opry elle king dolly parton
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Photo Credit: Andy Moran for Dig Boston / CC by 2.0

The Grand Ole Opry apologizes to fans offended by Elle King’s expletive-laden rant during her performance at a Dolly Parton tribute concert for the superstar’s birthday.

Fans who worked nine to five and then paid $300 for tickets to the Grand Ole Opry for a tribute concert celebrating Dolly Parton’s 78th birthday were understandably upset when singer Elle King, who described herself as “f—king hammered,” couldn’t remember Dolly’s lyrics during her performance.

The concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Friday, January 19, featured tributes from Ashley Monroe, Terri Clark, Tigirlily Gold, and Dailey and Vincent. But during Elle King’s cover of Parton’s 2001 track “Marry Me,” the singer admitted she couldn’t remember the lyrics.

Video clips captured the incident on social media, with King singing instead lines like “I don’t give a s—t,” and “I don’t know the lyrics to these things in this f—king town… Don’t tell Dolly, ‘cause it’s her birthday.”

“I’m not even gonna lie. That’s a b-side for you, I’m not even gonna f—kin’ lie. Y’all bought tickets for this s—t? You ain’t getting your money back,” King told a stunned crowd before adding, “Hi, my name is Elle King and I’m f—king hammered.”

A member of King’s band suggested she play one of her own songs instead of trying to cover another one of Parton’s, to which King responded, “I can barely play another person’s song, let me see if I can play one of mine.”

Fans were livid, with many taking to social media to express their disappointment that such a performance would take place at the iconic country music venue. “It was such a disappointment to spend $300 on tickets for a show where one of the artists ruined an entire night,” tweeted one attendee.

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

Even Dolly’s sister, singer Stella Parton, tweeted her disappointment with King’s performance, writing that “some lil girl by the name of Elle King apparently cussed and insulted some of Dolly’s fans by not knowing a song.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time a hillbilly went on the stage of the Opry ‘hammered’ but I guess it’s okay if you’re a male. But good lord, don’t ever let a girl behave that way folks! Double f—king standard if you ask me,” Stella added, before noting that “any lil ego thinking they can learn the lyrics correctly with a half-assed listen,” should do their homework, lest they “end up looking as silly as that lil girl.”

Dolly Parton celebrated her birthday last week with the release of a deluxe edition of her debut rock album, Rockstar, with nine bonus songs.