Dolly Parton is urging fans to be kind to Elle King after the “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer received backlash for getting drunk before a performance at the Grand Ole Opry on January 19. The show was in honor of Dolly’s birthday.
“Elle is a really great artist,” Dolly, 78, told Extra on February 9. “She’s a great girl and she’s been going through a lot of hard things lately. She just had a little bit too much to drink. So let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on [because] she felt worse than anyone ever could.”
During the concert, Elle, 34, told the crowd that she was “f–king hammered” after she forgot the words to Dolly’s song “Marry Me.” She added, “I don’t know the lyrics to these things in this f–king town. Don’t tell Dolly because it’s her birthday.”
Elle’s set included a string of expletives and the Opry reportedly “shut the curtain on her,” according to a TikTok user who was in attendance.
While Elle has not commented on the situation, the Grand Ole Opry responded to an attendee who said that the California native “ruined the night” because of her behavior. “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s Opry performance,” a representative for the venue wrote on X on January 20.
Dolly’s sister, Stella Parton, also defended Elle after the performance. “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!” she wrote via X. “Double f–king standard if ya ask me. 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 a 2022 interview, Elle opened up about why she usually drinks before taking the stage. “It’s easier for me to say, ‘Yeah, I want to drink and party and [then] go on stage,’” she said. “I get nervous before I go on stage. I have a couple of drinks [first]. Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don’t make them, it won’t sting as much.”
Elle, whose father is actor Rob Schneider, released her first album in 2015 followed by two more albums in 2018 and 2023. She has collaborated with Miranda Lambert and toured with stars like Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton and more.