My Life

Honoring Don Warden: “Mr. Everything”

Published March 13, 2017 / Last Updated March 13, 2017
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Dolly Parton pays tribute to legendary singer, manager and Steel Guitar Hall of Famer Don Warden.

Born in Mt. Grove, Missouri, Don Warden was a self-taught steel guitar player, singer and savvy business manager. Don Warden and Dolly Parton enjoyed a long-standing career together lasting more than 50 years. She affectionately called him her “Mr. Everything” and in remembering Don after his passing on March 11, 2017, Dolly said,

“I’ve known and loved Don Warden since I joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. He was like a father, a brother, a partner and one of my best friends. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing today. Certainly a huge piece of my life is gone. Rest in peace Don and know for sure that I will always love you.”

Don and Dolly met after she joined “The Porter Wagoner Show” in 1967. Prior to the popular television show, Don was a founding member of the Porter Wagoner Trio and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957. Fittingly, he was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2008.

Dolly’s “Mr. Everything”

Don’s 14-year run on “The Porter Wagoner Show” ended in 1974 when both he and Dolly departed the show. Don loyally served as Dolly’s manager and her “Mr. Everything” for nearly five decades. For Don, retirement didn’t come until his health kept him from the work he loved so dearly. During a 2008 concert honoring their late boss and band leader, Dolly presented Don with the Angel Award. The concert took place at Dollywood and became the last stage shared by both Dolly and Don.

Dolly recorded her fond admiration for Don within the pages of her 1994 book, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business.” In talking about Don, Dolly said,

“Anybody who knows him – and he knows everybody – looks up to him. At one time there was even a T-shirt being sold around Nashville that read ‘I KNOW DON WARDEN.’ People are still calling me and asking, ‘How can I get one of those Don Warden T-shirts?’ Sometimes it feels like people are only using me to get to Don.”

In addition to Dolly’s working relationship with Don, his wife Ann became a dear friend and valuable part of Dolly’s career. Ann lent her artistic eye for design to some of the early decorations at Dollywood. Later, she and Dolly’s brother Bobby worked together at the Parton family homestead also known the Tennessee Mountain Home. Perhaps most notably, Ann served on the board of the Dollywood Foundation which launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995. Ann’s loyalty to Dolly is surpassed only by that of her love and devotion to her husband.

Career & Achievements

Music was a huge part of Don’s life from an early age. In high school, he formed his own band, The Rhythm Rangers. In addition to his band leader role, he played steel guitar and sang. As a young man, he had an afternoon radio show on KWPM-AM in West Plains, Missouri. The band eventually made their way to the Louisiana Hayride. There, they backed The Wilburn Brothers and Red Sovine. In 1951, Don stepped away from the show for two years to serve in the US Army.

After returning from the Army, Don had another short run on the Hayride. Soon after, he returned to Missouri where he attended flight school. It wasn’t until a visit to his parents’ home in West Plains, Missouri that he met Porter Wagoner. Along with Speedy Haworth, they formed the Porter Wagoner Trio. In 1957, Don joined the Grand Ole Opry with Porter. Three years later, he started what would become a 14-year television run on the syndicated program, “The Porter Wagoner Show.”

Don Warden was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2008. His profound influence on artists such as Dolly and Porter will live on both in the music he made and in the lives he touched.

Don Warden (March 27, 1929 – March 11, 2017) was 87 years young.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Team DollyHonoring Don Warden: “Mr. Everything”

Dolly leaves ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’

Published April 8, 1974 / Last Updated August 23, 2015
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Team Dolly

Dolly bids farewell and writes “I Will Always Love You” as a way of saying goodbye to Porter Wagoner

Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Dolly leaves Porter Wagoner Show

Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner

Throughout Dolly’s seven-year stint on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” she and Porter reigned supreme as one of country music’s most popular duos. However, the little blonde with the powerhouse voice had set her sights on a solo career. As she set forth on her path to make her dreams come true, it would mean leaving the show–and her duet partner. Tension mounted behind the scenes, leading Dolly to ask to leave the show. Her decision came two years later than she initially agreed to stay.

In 1974, Dolly wrote, “I Will Always Love You,” as her own unique way of saying goodbye to Porter as their professional relationship came to an end. When Dolly first played the song for Porter, he began crying and uttered,

“That’s the prettiest song I ever heard.  And you can go, providing I get to produce that record.”

Wagoner followed through on his promise, and the album consequently went to No. 1 on the country charts.

Team DollyDolly leaves ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’

‘The Best of Dolly Parton’

Published November 11, 1970 / Last Updated August 23, 2015
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Team Dolly

Two years after signing Dolly to RCA, the label releases a compilation album, ‘The Best of Dolly Parton’

Dolly signed with RCA in 1968. By 1970, she had released four albums “Just Because I’m A Woman,” “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad),” “My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy” and “The Fairest of Them All.” The compilation album introduced new fans to some of Dolly’s best songs from these albums. The most notable was her version of “Mule Skinner Blues.”

In addition to the title tracks of her first four RCA albums, this compilation includes “Down from Dover,” “Gypsy, Joe, and Me,” “In the Ghetto,” “Daddy Come and Get Me,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Just the Way I Am.”

Porter Wagoner was quoted on the album as saying,

“It’s very difficult to select the best of Dolly’s recordings because each song she performs seems to be the best. I have been at every recording session Dolly has done for RCA, and I’ve helped produce her records, and I can truly say Dolly has God-given talent. As she breathes life into a song you feel as if the story actually comes alive.”

“Mule Skinner Blues,” also known as “Blue Yodel No 8,” was written by Jimmie Rodgers and George Vaughan in the 1930s. Dolly’s version reached No. 3 on the U.S. country charts. It earned Dolly her first individual GRAMMY nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1970. The previous year, Dolly earned her first GRAMMY nomination with her duet partner, Porter Wagoner. The two were nominated for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with their song, “Just Someone I Used to Know.”

Team Dolly‘The Best of Dolly Parton’

‘A Real Live Dolly’

Published July 6, 1970 / Last Updated August 23, 2015
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Team Dolly

Dolly records her first live album, ‘A Real Live Dolly,’ in Sevierville, Tenn. with special guest, Porter Wagoner

In 1970, Dolly released her first live album, ‘A Real Live Dolly’ on the RCA Nashville label. She recorded the album during a concert in the gym of her alma mater, Sevier County High School as part of the first Dolly Days event, a yearly celebration in Dolly’s hometown.

Several songs featured Porter Wagoner, her long-time duet partner and host of “The Porter Wagoner Show.” Porter also arranged the tracks. Comedian Speck Rhodes does a spoken comedy piece on the album. Rhodes was famous for his country comedy stylings on “The Porter Wagoner Show” and “Hee Haw” which also featured Dolly.

The album begins with an introduction by Cas Walker. Walker hosted a television show called “The Farm and Home Hour” that gave Dolly her start at the age of 10.

 

Team Dolly‘A Real Live Dolly’

The Porter Wagoner Show Welcomes Dolly Parton

Published August 13, 1967 / Last Updated January 20, 2016
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Team Dolly

Porter Wagoner invites Dolly to perform on his hit syndicated television show, “The Porter Wagoner Show”

In September 1967, soon after the highly successful release of her debut album, “Hello, I’m Dolly,” Porter Wagoner invited Dolly to perform on his hit syndicated television show “The Porter Wagoner Show.” Porter was a popular American country music singer known for his flashy Nudie and Manuel suits and blond pompadour. Known as Mr. Grand Ole Opry, Wagoner charted 81 singles from 1954–1983. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. When describing Porter, Dolly said,

“We could all relate to his sense of humor and his ‘good ol’ boy’ ways. I could relate to his shiny bright costumes, his flashy smile, and his blond helmet.”

Their on-screen chemistry was immediate and fans quickly embraced them and their music. The show’s popularity grew and became the No. 1 syndicated show in American. Each 30-minute episode generally featured performances by Porter, Dolly and a special guest. Beloved comedian, Speck Rhodes also contributed to the show’s relaxed format and Dolly and Porter often performed duets.

'My Favorite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner' - 10th Solo Album
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
'My Favorite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner' - 10th Solo Album
Dolly lands spot on ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’
Dolly Parton on The Porter Wagoner Show
Dolly lands spot on ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’
The Porter Wagoner Show
Dolly Parton on The Porter Wagoner Show
The Porter Wagoner Show
The Porter Wagoner Show
Dolly Parton on The Porter Wagoner Show
The Porter Wagoner Show

 

View a rare video clip of Dolly Parton singing “Mule Skinner Blues” on “The Porter Wagoner Show” via Vimeo.

Team DollyThe Porter Wagoner Show Welcomes Dolly Parton