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Dolly Parton is soon debuting her first rock album. The album includes many iconic guest stars who will be helping Dolly with covers of classic rock songs, including “Stairway to Heaven”. Dolly Parton did record a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” in the past, but her decision to do another might have to do with her husband’s reaction to her initial version.

Dolly Parton’s husband had harsh words for her cover of ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Dolly Parton attends the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards in Frisco, Texas
Dolly Parton | Omar Vega/FilmMagic

In 2002, Dolly Parton released her version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” on her album Halos & Horns. Her cover was a drastic change from the original, converting into a bluegrass soul song instead of the hardcore rock ballad it is. Her husband, Carl Dean, is a passionate rock n’ roll fan, so his opinion was important to Dolly. 

In an interview with Today, Parton said her husband loves Led Zeppelin, and he had a brutal critique of her “Stairway to Heaven” cover when she played it for him. 

“He always loved the ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ He loved Led Zeppelin,” Parton shared. “And years ago, I did ‘Stairway to Heaven’ as a bluegrass, a gospel thing. And Carl, I played it to him, and he said, ‘I think that’s a little more like ‘Stairwell to Hell’ than ‘Stairway to Heaven!’’ He didn’t think that anybody should do ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but Led Zeppelin. ‘Who’s gonna have the nerve to do that?’ And I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to have the nerve.’”

Parton did get approval from Robert Plant

While Dolly Parton’s husband might not have been thrilled by her cover, she did receive approval from Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. Plant wrote the song with guitarist Jimmy Page and famously recorded it for their 1971 untitled fourth studio album. In an interview with Launch, the British rock singer said he liked Parton’s vocal performance on the song but had questions about the lyric changes she made. 

“You know, the thing is that she’s not wailing–she’s keeping it within the genre, and she’s a good singer,” Plant explained. “Maybe she didn’t get the last bit properly, and maybe that’s sort of how the idioms have changed so much, that maybe it doesn’t matter–maybe that’s the way to do it.”

The country singer will be covering the song again on her upcoming rock album


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Parton is releasing an epic rock album later this year. The album, Rockstar, will consist of 30 songs and includes covers of classic rock songs along with Parton originals. The tracklist features many iconic guests, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus, P!nk, Steven Tyler, and Pat Benatar. “Stairway to Heaven” is featured on the album and will include Parton singing with Lizzo. 

The album comes after the “Jolene” singer was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022. In an interview with Pollstar, Parton said she always wanted to do a rock album for her husband, and she figured now would be the perfect time.

“When I got nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I thought, ‘Well, no better time to do it,’” Dolly said. “I had always wanted to do it. My husband is a big hard rock ’n’ roll fan, and for years I thought, ‘One of these days, I’d like to do an album mainly just for him, just to kind of do it.’ When I got nominated, I thought, ‘Why not just go ahead and do it while the iron’s hot?  Maybe have some of the greats, the legends of rock ‘n’ roll sing along with me.