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Elle King under fire for drunken, expletive-heavy Dolly Parton tribute

Singer Elle King is under fire for celebrating Dolly Parton's birthday a little too hard Friday evening.
Elle King under fire for drunken, expletive-heavy Dolly Parton tribute
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jan 22, 2024

It may have been Dolly Parton's 78th birthday celebration, but there's another musician who's been on the minds of attendees and onlookers since the event Friday evening.

Singer-songwriter Elle King took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry that night to sing a tribute for the birthday girl, but the performance thereafter induced more cringes than claps.

Various videos from Nashville crowd captured the 34-year-old slurring her words and telling fans she was "f***ing hammered" before giving a stumbling rendition of Parton's "Marry Me," marred with King forgetting much of the lyrics and repeatedly swearing throughout the traditionally family-friendly show.

"I'm not even gonna f***ing lie, y'all bought tickets for this s***? You ain't getting your money back," King said in one video. In another mid-performance, she said, "I don't know the lyrics to this thing in this f***ing town. Don't tell Dolly, 'cause it's her birthday."

Audience members were heard heckling King, with one telling her to "Just f***ing stop!" Other reactions spread across social media, with one attendee who spent $300 on tickets saying King "ruined the night with her horrible, drunk, and profane performance. Dolly Parton would've been mortified. For our first time at The Opry, it was a shame we all had to witness that." 

The iconic music venue used the post on X as a chance to speak out on King's performance, replying back with, "we deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night's second Opry performance."

King hasn't commented on the backlash surrounding her drunken stage presence, nor has Parton, who wasn't in the crowd Friday. 

Parton's sister Stella also wasn't there, but she still took to X Sunday to share her thoughts. 

"It wouldn't be the first time a Hillbilly went on the stage of the Opry 'hammered' but I guess it's ok if you're a male but good lord don't ever let a girl behave that way folks! Double fucking standard if ya ask me," she wrote. "To any lil ego thinking they can learn the lyrics correctly with a half assed listen to one of Dolly's song. Surprise! You'll end up looking as silly as that lil girl."

In the past, King has admitted to enjoying a drink before a show, but mostly to settle her nerves.

"I get nervous before I go on stage, [so] I have a couple of drinks [first]," she told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2022. "Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don't make them, it won't sting as much." 

The habit, however, landed her in controversy earlier just weeks ago when she appeared drunk while slurring a performance on "New Year's Eve Live: Nashville's Big Bash."

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