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Collection Dolly Parton and the Roots of Country Music

Dolly Parton Timeline

A chronology of key events in the life and career of Dolly Parton, from her birth in 1946 to 2004, when she was awarded the Library of Congress 'Living Legend' Medal.

Timeline Image for Dolly Parton


  1. January 19, 1946

    Dolly Rebecca Parton is born to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Parton near Sevierville, Tennessee.

  2. 1951

    Parton writes her first song, "Little Tiny Tassle Top."

  3. 1953

    Parton makes her first guitar out of an old mandolin and two bass guitar strings.

  4. 1956

    Parton begins performing as a regular singer on The Cas Walker Show in Knoxville.

  5. 1957

    Parton makes her first recording, "Puppy Love," on Goldband Records. The single is released in 1959, but does not chart.

    Dolly as a young performer
  6. 1959

    Parton gives her first performance at the Grand Old Opry. Introduced by Johnny Cash, she performs his "You Gotta Be My Baby" and gets three encores.

  7. 1962

    Parton and her uncle Bill Owens are signed to Tree Publishing and Mercury Records in Nashville. She records "It's Sure Gonna Hurt" (written by Parton and Owens) backed with "The Love You Gave." Credited to "Dolly Parton with the Merry Melody Singers," this is her first single on a major label. The record fails to chart, and Parton and Owens are dropped from Tree and Mercury.

  8. 1963

    Parton sings six songs, some of them Kitty Wells hits, on Hits Made Famous by Country Queens, released on Somerset records.

  9. 1965

    Fred Foster signs Parton and Bill Owens to his Combine publishing house and to Monument Records.

  10. 1966

    Bill Phillips makes the top ten with recordings of two Parton-Owens songs, "Put It Off until Tomorrow" and "The Company You Keep."

  11. January 21, 1967

    Parton first appears on the Billboard country charts with two singles recorded for Monument: "Dumb Blonde" (number twenty-four) and "Something Fishy" (number seventeen).

  12. July 1967

    Parton's first full-length album, Hello, I'm Dolly, is released on Monument Records.

    Hello, I'm Dolly
  13. September 5, 1967

    Parton first appears on the Porter Wagoner Show.

  14. December 1967

    Parton and Wagoner's duet version of "The Last Thing on My Mind" enters Billboard's country chart, hitting number seven.

  15. January 1968

    Parton and Wagoner's first duet album, Just between You and Me, is released on RCA.

  16. 1968

    Parton's first solo single for RCA, "Just Because I'm a Woman," is released. This is also the title of her first solo album for the label.

  17. 1968

    Parton and Wagoner win the Country Music Association (CMA) award for Vocal Group of the Year, as well as the Music City News (MCN) award for Duet of the Year.

  18. 1970

    Parton's version of Jimmy Rodgers' "Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)" reaches number three on the Billboard country charts and shows crossover appeal.

  19. 1971

    Parton's solo single "Joshua" becomes her first number one hit.

  20. 1974

    "Jolene" reaches number one on the country charts, and number sixty on the pop charts. Parton's next four singles also reach number one on the country charts: "I Will Always Love You"; "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" (her only number one duet with Porter); "Love is like a Butterfly"; "The Bargain Store." In April, Parton quits the Porter Wagoner television and road show.

  21. 1975

    Parton wins the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year award.

  22. 1976

    Dolly, Parton's syndicated television show, premieres. She ends her long professional association with Porter Wagoner.

  23. 1977

    Parton releases New Harvest ... First Gathering, her first self-produced album. The single "Here You Come Again" hits number three on the pop charts. It holds the number one spot on the country charts for five straight weeks, making it the biggest hit (based on chart time) of her career.

  24. 1978

    New Harvest ... First Gathering goes platinum, making Parton the first female country artist to have an album sell one million copies. For the album Here You Come Again, Parton wins her first Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female.

  25. 1980

    Parton's first film, 9 to 5, is released. This earns Parton Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best New Film Star, and Best Original Song (for the title song), as well as the People's Choice Award for Favorite Movie Song ("9 to 5") and an Oscar nomination for the title song.

  26. 1981

    The song "9 to 5" reaches number one on the country and pop charts. It earns Parton Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female and Best Country Song. She releases the song on her own album, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs, which wins Parton her first Academy of Country Music (ACM) Female Vocalist of the Year award.

  27. 1982

    Parton stars in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds. Her remake of "I Will Always Love You" for the soundtrack earns a Grammy nomination.

  28. 1986

    Parton is inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

  29. May 3, 1986

    Dollywood, a theme park, opens near Parton's hometown in Tennessee.

  30. 1987

    Trio, with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, is a top ten pop album. It wins a Grammy as well as the ACM Album of the Year, MCN Vocal Collaboration of the Year, and CMA Top Vocal Event awards.

  31. 1991

    The album Eagle When She Flies gives Parton another number one hit:"Rocking Years," with Ricky Van Shelton. Parton is Billboard's All-Time Top Female Country Artist, the only woman to chart number one records in three different decades.

  32. 1992

    Rhythm & blues singer Whitney Houston records Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for her film The Bodyguard. This recording set a then-record of fourteen weeks at number one.

  33. 1993

    Parton releases Honky Tonk Angels with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, the first album to be released through Columbia and Parton's own record label, Blue Eye.

  34. 1994

    Parton releases her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, which is a New York Times Bestseller.

  35. 1999

    Parton's first bluegrass album, The Grass Is Blue, is released to great critical acclaim. It is her first release on the independent label Sugar Hill Records and her own Blue Eye Records.

    The Grass is Blue
  36. 2001

    The Grass Is Blue wins the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. Parton releases bluegrass- and folk-based Little Sparrow, another critical and commercial success.

  37. 2002

    Little Sparrow wins the Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal Performance for its single "Shine" and is named Best Bluegrass Album by the Association for Independent Music Awards. Parton releases a third bluegrass-influenced CD, Halos & Horns, which includes a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven." Parton goes on tour for the first time in a decade.

    Little Sparrow
  38. 2003

    Halos & Horns earns Parton two more Grammy nominations. She also earns a nomination for the CMA Female Vocalist Of The Year--her first such recognition in sixteen years. Sugar Hill releases the tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. Welk Music Group releases a new collection of patriotic and spiritual songs by Parton, titled For God and Country. Two of her songs are named by CMT (Country Music Television) among the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music.

  39. July 2003

    Parton is featured at the annual Capitol Fourth concert in Washington, D.C.

  40. April 13, 2004

    Parton accepts the Living Legend Medal from the Library of Congress.

    Sources consulted for timeline: External, External, and Alanna Nash's Dolly: The Biography (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2002).