"Hammered" Elle King Ruins Dolly Parton Tribute, Grand Old Opry Issues Apology
The 34-year-old singer admitted to being drunk during the celebratory birthday concert.
A tribute to Dolly Parton on her 78th birthday definitely did not go as planned, resulting in the venue that hosted it issuing an apology. On Saturday, Jan. 19, iconic Nashville venue the Grand Ole Opry celebrated the singer-songwriter's birthday with a concert, but one guest put on a show that offended attendees. Elle King admitted during her set that she was "hammered," forgot the words to the song she was singing, and used profanity while engaging with hecklers calling her out for being disrespectful.
As reported by Variety, King, best known for her song "Ex's & Oh's" and for being the daughter of Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider, forgot the words to Parton's song "Marry Me" and sang, "I don't give a [expletive]" and "I don't know the lyrics to these things in this [expletive] town … Don't tell Dolly 'cause it's her birthday." (Parton was not present at the show.) A member of King's band suggested she play one of her own songs instead, and she said, "I can barely play another person's song, let me see if I can play one of mine."
The audience began heckling King, and Variety reports that she told them, "You ain't getting your money back." The 34-year-old also said, "I'll tell you one thing more. Hi, my name is Elle King and I'm [expletive] hammered."
Warning: Explicit language in video above.
People on social media have criticized King as clips from the performance have circulated online.
"#ElleKing disgraced one of the biggest legends of not just country, but of the world. How dare you. #mess," wrote one X (formerly Twitter) user. Another wrote, "I watched this, and Elle King should be embarrassed for disrespecting Dolly Parton this way. I don't think the kids in the audience needed to see this either." Another country music fan posted, "elle king. how disrespectful. not only to dolly, but to every single person who has walked on that stage. i seriously cannot even believe it."
In response to a post from a disgruntled attendee, the Grand Ole Opry account apologized for King's performance. On Jan. 19, the venue posted that Lauren Alaina would no longer be taking part in the Parton tribute show "due to unforeseen circumstances." In response to this post, the user @JudasBellmont wrote, "I wish she would've been there because Elle 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 Opry account replied, "Hi Judas, we deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night's second Opry performance." Best Life has reached out to a representative for King for comment.
As reported by the Dallas Observer, prior to the Opry performance, King was also slammed online by viewers who thought she appeared to be inebriated while hosting New Year's Eve Live: Nashville's Big Bash and performing her song "Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)." Before beginning the performance, she said, "It's OK. I live what I sing, y'all. I have had a drink."
On YouTube, some commenters defended King's appearance on the New Year's Eve special. "SHE WAS JUST HAVING A GOOD TIME!!! Love her!!!" wrote one fan. Another said, "Yall lighten up! It was new years eve and she did just fine! Who cares if shes had a few? Good job Elle!"
King opened up about drinking on stage in a 2022 interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. She said that she has performed both sober and under the influence of alcohol, and explained, "I will say I enjoy both and I really applaud people who are sober." She explained of drinking before singing, "They don't call it 'liquid courage' for nothing. I mean, how many jobs do you show up for and there are bottles of liquor on the table for you (in your dressing room)? There are not a lot."
The singer added that drinking alcohol helps with her nerves. "I get nervous before I go on stage, [so] I have couple of drinks [first]," King said. "Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don't make them, it won't sting as much."
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