Ever the philanthropist: Dolly Parton still has love for Elle King — and wants others to as well — defending the “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer after King botched the country legend’s family-friendly birthday show at the Grand Ole Opry last month.
“Elle is a really great artist,” the country-music legend said during a recent interview with “Extra.” “She’s a great girl. She’s been going through a lot of hard things lately and she just had a little too much to drink.”
Or, as King put it inside the Ryman Auditorium that night, she was “f— hammered,” slurring her words while forgetting the lyrics to Parton’s 2001 song “Marry Me.”
“I don’t know the lyrics to this thing in this f— town,” the 34-year-old said onstage. “Don’t tell Dolly, ’cause it’s her birthday.”
King, the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, also repeatedly swore during the star-studded gig and joked with the crowd about her delivery, telling them, “You ain’t getting your money back.”
Observers likened her showing to “drunken karaoke” and raised other concerns, prompting the Grand Ole Opry to issue an apology online.
“[W]e deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance,” the vaunted program tweeted.
But the “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You” singer-songwriter paid it no mind.
“Let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on, ’cause she felt worse than anybody ever could,” Parton said.
A spokesperson for Parton did not have more to add beyond the singer’s remarks on “Extra.”
Days after the Opry performance, King postponed five shows without stating a reason for the last-minute changes. The singer plans to return to the stage on March 1 during the Extra Innings Festival in Tempe, Ariz., according to her official tour website.
Parton stayed mum in the immediate aftermath of King’s viral performance, but her outspoken sister Stella did not. Stella Parton accused King of disrespecting the Country Music and Rock & Roll hall of famer, tweeting that “if you’re lucky enough to stand before a paying audience give them your best or get off the stage. I don’t buy the lame weak excuse of getting ‘hammered’ to get out there. The fans pay our wages FYI. They sometimes sacrifice to do so.”
King has yet to address the performance, and representatives for the singer did not immediately respond Monday to The Times’ request for comment.