Terry Morrow: Revived 'I Will Always Love You' may net Dolly Parton a fortune

Dolly Parton stands to make a lot of money off a renewed interest in 'I Will Always Love You.'

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Dolly Parton stands to make a lot of money off a renewed interest in "I Will Always Love You."

With Whitney Houston's passing, her biggest hit — "I Will Always Love You" — could net Dolly Parton, the song's writer, a new bundle.

Renewed interest in Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" will mean Parton will be making a fortune off its current airplay and sales since the Sevier County native owns the publishing and writing rights to the song.

When Houston released her version in the early 1990s, Parton reportedly made millions off the one version of the song. The tune was a massive hit, staying atop Billboard magazine's Hot 100 singles chart for 14 weeks.

Since the song has been virtually dormant for years — Houston's version came out 20 years ago — "I Will Always Love You" hasn't been heard or purchased this much in a very long time. On Sunday, the day after Houston died, the tune topped the U.S. digital downloads on iTunes.

Even if Houston had not died, Parton would have gotten the rates anyway, but not on the same heightened scale due to public demand.

Houston's cover of the song is being played heavily on TV and radio right now because of Houston's death, reviving it commercially for the first time in years.

The Huffington Post is reporting, through a music insider, that Houston "was broke — her label gave her advances.

"And unlike Michael (Jackson), you have to remember that Whitney didn't write any of those massive hits. They were songs that (producer) Clive Davis told her to sing, and she did."

"On records, the typical mechanical royalty paid to the writer/publisher is about eight cents per radio performance," a successful songwriter is quoted as telling Huffington Post.

"That would all go to Dolly. Whitney is only the singer. (Whitney) receives an advance from the record company based upon anticipated album sales ... (that could be) around $2 per album.

"But all of the costs to record the album, promote the album, videos ... are all recouped from the artist's share."

Believe it or not, artists, even those who sell millions of records, may end up owing the record label money. Singers don't make money from record sales.

Instead, they make their money from ticket sales, a revenue stream that will no longer be a source of income for Houston's estate, the Huffington Post reported.

"Whitney was living off of advances — loans from the record company — and had been (for) quite some time," the insider said.

"Most likely the estate owes the record company a ton and future sales will be used to pay back that loan before any money goes to the estate.

"The songwriters, however, will make a bundle."


Actress/ singer Kristin Chenoweth is eager to play Dolly Parton — but she wants Parton to get a move on if that's going to happen.

Chenoweth has not made it a secret she wants to play the Smoky Mountain Queen of Dollywood, but a vehicle for her to do such a role has not been created yet.

Parton is now at work writing a musical biography of her life, and Chenoweth has her eyes on it.

"Yesterday I heard (Parton) said that I should play her ... it all started with her saying that many years ago and, of course, I want to play her, but she better freakin' hurry up and write it!" Chenoweth told me.

"I'd love to play her. What's not to love about her. I love her. She knows how I feel about her, and I'd love to play her."

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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Comments » 10

T0MMYJACK writes:

And nothing says "putz" like doesitmatter's post.

KTowner writes:

Shouldn't that read "ANOTHER fortune"?

trollhair writes:

Doesn't matter who sings the song....Dolly wrote a great song. At least we all know that Ms. Parton won't be using the money that she makes for drugs. I am just having a problem with people glorifying drug addicts.

HIMGONE writes:

Cas ,I think would be pleased

winamaier#602849 writes:

I find it crazy that people are so judgemental,critical and mean spirited to people who have achieved so much just because they are human and have problems.

jonathan#509413 writes:

Although her style of music generally was not to my tastes, Whitney Houston was a talented singer at one time. That said, I find it odd that the public, recording industry, etc. are falling all over themselves over a pop singer whose biggest song was a cover of a country song originally released by Dolly Parton 38 years ago in 1974.

stfunie writes:

I am no huge Dolly fan but she is a GREAT person and a smart woman, too. Elvis wanted to record this song, but Col Parker informed her that in order for Elvis to record the song, it was customary for songwriters to sign over HALF the rights to him. She refused. She deserves every cent she makes and she's already made a TON of money from it. At least some of the money will go to charity rather than cocaine.

stfunie writes:

in response to jc4usa:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why would Dolly donate a cent on Whitney's behalf? That woman was more annoying than anything with her stupid antics and drug problems, now that she's dead people think she deserves something. Not so.

AtticusRex (Inactive) writes:

The funny thing is that Dolly will probably donate some of those royalties in Whitney's name. She's that stand-up a person. I worked at Dollywood in the 90's (Funnel Cakes...) and even though I hate country music and thus Dolly's music I have never seen or heard of anyone who cares more about their community (Sevier County/East TN) than Dolly. Dolly's Imagination Library gives a book every month to kids (including my almost 2 year old daughter) in most if not all of the counties in the area. Not to mention how she is probably the main reason Sevier county is a fantastic tourist trap...errr mecca.

So what if she's old and wants to use some of her scratch for some face stretching. She can't live forever, but at least she can look like she's riding in a convertible.

CrankE writes:

in response to jc4usa:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

. . . because if Dolly doesn't donate ALL of the money that she EARNED and rightfully belongs to her then she is clearl eeeeeevil and imperialist and capitalist with multiple exclamation points!!!! Donating only part of it must mean that Dolly hates black people!!

If Gov. Christie didn't lower flags, then he also would have been racist or bigoted or something. Yet because he's ordered state flags lowered to half staff, he must be glorifying the drug culture.

On the other hand, people should worship Tebow for good clean living and he should be endlessly lauded and glorified and deified on all media outlets so that it is rubbed in everyone's face 24/7. Oh, no wait, they do that already.

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