Jan. 19, 1946: Dolly Rebecca Parton is born to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Parton in their mountain cabin near Sevierville, Tennessee, the fourth of 12 children (five boys and six girls who have lived to adulthood and one boy who died shortly after birth). Her father was a tobacco farmer, and she was surrounded by music, poverty, and religion (having a preacher for a grandfather).
Age 5: Dolly writes her first song, "Little Tiny Tassle Top".
Age 7: Dolly makes her first guitar, taking a mandolin and applying two bass guitar strings to it.
Age 8: Dolly gets her first real guitar, a small Martin.
Age 10Begins performing as a regular singer on "The Cas Walker Show" in Knoxville.
Age 11 (1957): Records first song, "Puppy Love," on Goldband Records, an independent label in Lake Charles, Louisiana. (The single is released on April 20, 1959, but does not chart.)
Age 13: First performance at the Grand Old Opry, getting her family friends, Carl and Pearl Butler, to convince Jimmy C. Newman to give her his spot on the show. Introduced by Johnny Cash, she performs his "You Gotta Be My Baby," and gets three encores.
1962: Dolly and her uncle, Bill Owens, manage to get signed to Tree Publishing and Mercury Records in Nashville. She records "It's Sure Gonna Hurt" (written by her and Bill) with "The Love You Gave" as the B-side produced by Jerry Crutchfield. The single, her first on a major label, is released but does not chart. They are dropped from Tree and Mercury.
1964: Becomes first in her family to be graduated from high school. Moves to Nashville the next day, struggling to survive. On her first day in town, she is washing clothes at the Wishy Washy Laundromat when Carl Dean drives by. They start talking and then dating.
1966: Dolly is signed to Monument Records and Combine, its music publishing arm. Several singles are released, all with a pop sound, but none become hits. Her management at the label don't want her to marry Carl so they can promote her as single. Also this year, established country performer Bill Phillips records her song "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" on Decca Records with Dolly singing uncredited harmony, taking the song into the Top 10 and making it Phillips' biggest career hit. Radio stations across the country are flooded with calls asking who that "girl singer" is on the song, which convinces the Monument brass that she could sell country. Dolly also receives a BMI Country Song Award for the hit, meaning it was one of the most-played country songs of the year.
May 30, 1966: Dolly and Carl elope in Ringhold, Georgia, (to keep it out of the Tennessee newspapers) with Dolly's mother as a witness. They keep their marriage secret.
Jan. 21, 1967: "Dumb Blond," a country single Dolly records for Monument, debuts on the Billboard country charts. It tops out at No. 24, becoming her first recording success. It is followed in June with "Something Fishy," which breaks the top 20, hitting No. 17. Monument management says she has established herself enough that she could now get married. She informs them that she and Carl had already been married for one year.
July 1967: Dolly's first full-length album, Hello, I'm Dolly on Monument Records, is released containing her two previous singles and several other songs, including her own version of "Put It Off Until Tomorrow."
Late 1967: Porter Wagoner, one of country's superstars, asks Dolly to join his television show, one of the most successful syndicated programs of the time, to replace his "girl singer," Norma Jean, who was retiring to marry and have a family. She accepts, but Porter wants her to leave Monument and sign on at RCA with him as her manager. Reluctantly, she agrees. Reportedly, Chet Atkins, then head of RCA Nashville, said he didn't think she could sing and refused to sign her until Porter offered that if she lost money for the label, they could take it out of his own royalties. Atkins agrees. Dolly begins to appear on Porter's show and in his road tours. However, in concert, fans call out for Norma Jean. To help Dolly relax and to help the crowd accept her, he offers that they sing a couple of duets. The first one they choose is "The Last Thing on My Mind," a folk standard.
December 1967: Their duet version of "The Last Thing on My Mind" enters Billboard's country chart, hitting No. 7.
January 1968: Their first duet album, Just Between You and Me, is released on RCA containing "The Last Thing on My Mind."
April 1968: Dolly's first RCA solo album, Just Because I'm a Woman, is released. The title song is also released as a single, debuting on Billboard in June and hitting No. 17. The album is a success, keeping Porter's royalties safe.
1968-1970: Dolly and Porter continue recording, releasing a duet album every few months and a few months later a solo album (averaging one duet and one solo album each every five or six months). Their duet singles (and Porter's solos) routinely make the Top 10, but Dolly's solo singles are around the 40s. That is, until the first female version of Jimmy Rodgers' "Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)" is released, getting some airplay on progressive rock stations and topping out on the country charts at No. 3 in the summer of 1970 (her first solo Top 10). In 1968, Dolly is nominated for CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and wins the Music City News Most Promising Female Artist. She and Porter take home the CMA for Vocal Group of the Year and Music City News Award for Duet of the Year. They take home the CMA for the next two years in the new Duo of the Year category as well as two more MCN duo awards. They're nominated for country duo Grammies in 1969 and 1970, with "Mule Skinner Blues" earning Dolly her first solo Grammy nomination. She joins the Grand Old Opry on Feb. 4, 1969.
December 1970: Dolly's solo single "Joshua" debuts in Billboard. On Feb. 6, 1971, it becomes her first No. 1. This brings her second solo Grammy nomination.
1971-1973: The same release schedule continues, with Dolly's solo singles now often moving into the Top 20 and Top 10. Porter's chart numbers, however, begin to fall.
November 1973-March 1975: "Jolene," a Dolly solo, debuts in Billboard, giving Dolly her second No. 1 in February 1974 (and first British chart single, reaching No. 7; and first pop success, reaching No. 60). This begins a two-year streak of five consecutive No. 1 singles: "Jolene," "I Will Always Love You," "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" (her only No. 1 duet with Porter), "Love is Like a Butterfly," and "The Bargain Store."
1975-76: After years of fighting, Dolly begins to spread her wings away from Porter. She commits to her own syndicated television show, then the most expensive show ever produced for syndication, but after one season and some success, she calls that quits. She wins the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award both years (after being nominated six of the previous seven years) and gets her first Entertainer of the Year nomination in 1976. Also during this time, she secretly travels to New York to speak with the heads of RCA, asking that she be allowed to take her career in a new direction. They agree, and so Dolly is off to Los Angeles for a new manager, Sandy Gallin.
1977-1978: First, Sandy agrees to let Dolly handle her own new album, her first away from Porter's control. New Harvest, First Gathering is only mildly successful that year. Then, he takes over, and by year's end, Dolly is on the verge of becoming a superstar. More than two and a half years since her last No. 1 ("The Bargain Store"), "Here You Come Again" debuts on the charts on Oct. 15, 1977. Dolly is appearing on The Tonight Show and other national non-country programs. The cover for the album, also released in October, shows a playful Dolly mixing a country girl image with neon disco lights in the background. Scrolled across the top of the album is the first appearance of the "Dolly" signature (although it wasn't her actual signature but a creation of RCA people). On Dec. 3, the single hits No. 1 on the country charts, staying there for five straight weeks (her biggest career hit based on chart time). It also reaches No. 3 on the pop charts. On Dec. 27, the album is certified gold, or 500,000 copies sold. Slightly more than a month later, the song reaches gold status (1 million copies for singles), on Feb. 1, 1978. In March, the album's second single, "It's All Wrong But It's All Right," spends two weeks at No. 1 on the country charts, and its B-side, "Two Doors Down," goes to No. 19 on pop. On April 28, 1978, the album goes platinum, 1 million copies sold, the first such designation given to a female country artist. (Although about three or four had sold million-copy albums before Dolly, those were all before the platinum status was created.) On June 12, 1978, Best of Dolly Parton, her 1975 greatest hits compilation, also goes gold. Her next album, Heartbreaker, released in July 1978, reaches the gold mark on Aug. 16. Its title song hits No. 1 on the country charts in September, hanging on to the top spot for three weeks and climbing to No. 37 on pop. The year ends with the second single, "I Really Got the Feeling," and its B-side, "Baby I'm Burning," both on the charts. Dolly wins the 1978 country female Grammy (her first) and takes home top honors, Entertainer of the Year, at both the 1977 ACM Awards and 1978 CMA Awards. In 1978, she becomes the first country star to pose for the cover of Playboy, wearing a shimmering Playmates outfit she designs herself. She also hosts an episode of "The Midnight Special" and does a network television special with Cher and Rod Stewart, earning Dolly an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continuing Or Single Performance By A Supporting Actress In Variety Or Music.
1979: "I Really Got the Feeling" goes to No. 1 for two weeks on the country charts in January, while "Baby I'm Burning" only makes it to No. 48 (No. 25 on the pop charts). A disco mix dance single of the latter is also released, becoming a club hit. Her next album, Great Balls of Fire, is released in May and goes gold in November. It produces one No. 1, "You're the Only One." She plays Vegas. But things aren't all rosy; with her newfound crossover success and its accompanying money, Porter thinks he has some due, so he files a multi-million dollar breach of contract suit against her for dissolving their business partnership. She settles out of court for about $1 million and a new duet album. She and Carol Burnett do a network television special.
1980-1981: Dolly's first film is released, 9 to 5, in which she had third billing behind Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin. One of only three "blockbusters" that year, the film brings Dolly Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress, Best New Film Star and Best Song (for the title song) as well as the Peoples Choice Award for Best Actress and an Oscar nomination for the title song, which itself is a country and pop No. 1 in January 1981 and million-seller by February. The song also helps Dolly pick up two more Grammies (for Best Country Female Performance and Best Country Song) as well as a nominations for their top pop award (Song of the Year) and as for best music from a film. In addition, she releases the song on her own album, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs, which goes gold in March, and wins her first ACM Female Vocalist of the Year Award.
1982: Dolly stars in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds, making it the third-highest grossing musical ever. Her re-recording of "I Will Always Love You" for the soundtrack hits No. 1 country and No. 53 pop as well as a Grammy nomination and a record for being the only performer to hit No. 1 twice with the same song.
1983-1986 Dolly gets her first HBO concert special from London. She teams up with Kenny Rogers for "Islands in the Stream," which tops both the country charts and pop charts for two weeks in 1983. It is the only single that year to go double platinum (more than 2 million copies sold) and remains today the most recent country song to hit No. 1 on the pop charts. Its only Grammy nomination, however, is for Best Pop Duo. It does win, however, the ACM Best Duo, MCN Best Duo, American Music Association Best (pop) Duo and many other awards. Its success pushes Dolly's Greatest Hits album to the gold mark in 1983 and platinum mark by 1986. Dolly's third film, Rhinestone starring Sylvester Stallone, is a flop but does produce one country No. 1 for her and a Grammy nomination. Dolly enters a severe bout with depression. She is inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984, and that same year, she and Kenny record Once Upon a Christmas, one of the biggest-selling Christmas albums of the decade. It results in a CBS television special, and the CD goes platinum by Dec. 3, hitting double-platinum in 1989. The two do an HBO concert special in 1984. Dolly is inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986. On May 3, 1986, she opens a theme park called Dollywood near her hometown in Tennessee. By the '90s, it becomes the fourth most visited park in the nation. For her humanitarian efforts, she is named Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year in 1986. Also in 1985, she and Sandy found Sandollar Films. In 1986, her first television film, Smoky Mountain Christmas, which she co-wrote, becomes ABC's highest rated special in more than two years.
1987-1988: A mixed time for Dolly. RCA drops her, and she moves to Columbia Records. Her ABC variety series flops, but she is paid $44 million to cancel a second season. Her full-fledged pop album Rainbow is also a flop, but the release of Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt later that year is one of the top albums of the year, breaking the Top 10 Pop Album chart and going platinum. The collaboration wins a Grammy, the ACM Album of the Year, MCN Vocal Collaboration of the Year and CMA Top Vocal Event. In 1988, Dolly is chosen as Grand Marshal of the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans and hosts Saturday Night Live. She receives the Peoples Choice Awards for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series and Favorite All-Around Female Performer. She establishes the Dollywood Foundation to combat the massive illiteracy rate and low level of education of the people of the Appalachians. She establishes a wellness and rehabilitation center at Sevier Medical Center in the area. She is inducted into the Small Town of America Hall of Fame. She hosts the 1988 CMA Awards.
1989-1990: Steel Magnolias hits the screens, earning Dolly rave acting reviews. One of the year's hits, it wins the People's Choice Award for Best Drama. After two years without releasing an album, White Limozeen comes out, producing her first solo No. 1 in four years, "Why'd Ya Come in Here Lookin' Like That." The album reaches gold status by 1991 and gives way to one more No. 1 in 1989, "Yellow Roses." She, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson team up for a network television concert special. In 1990, Home for Christmas spawns a television special and goes gold by 1994. Also in 1990, Dolly is given an honorary doctorate by Carson Newman College and is guest speaker at the National Dropout Prevention Conference.
1991: Eagle When She Flies is released, spawning her most recent No. 1 to date, "Rocking Years" with Ricky Van Shelton, making her Billboard's All-Time Top Female Country Artist, being the only one to score No. 1s in three different decades. The album goes platinum. Dolly stars in another television movie, Wild Texas Wind, again which she co-wrote.
1992-1993: Whitney Houston records "I Will Always Love You" for her film The Bodyguard, and sells several million copies as it hits No. 1 on the pop charts and sets a record of 14 weeks at the top spot, which has only been broken once since. That year, Dolly gets top billing in a theatrical release for the first time with Straight Talk, which is marginally successful. In 1993, Dolly releases Slow Dancing with the Moon, which although it does not produce a No. 1, sells 1 million copies and goes platinum nonetheless. Later that year, she releases Honky Tonk Angels with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, but it is unsuccessful. It is, however, the first album to be released through Columbia and Dolly's own record label, Blue Eye.
1994-97: A live album, Heartsongs, comes out in 1994 but is unsuccessful. She also releases her autobiography, "My Life and Other Unfinished Business," which is a New York Times Bestseller.Something Special is released in 1995 and fails. Its only success is Dolly's third version of "I Will Always Love You," this time a duet with Vince Gill which topped out at No. 15 on the country charts. It did, however, get a Grammy nomination and pick up the CMA Vocal Collaboration of the Year Award. In 1996, she stars in another highly-rated Christmas television movie, Unlikely Angel. In 1997, Dolly again switches labels, this time going to MCA/Universal's new Rising Tide. Her album Treasures, a collection of cover songs, fails but does result in a television concert special. Later in the year, however, techno dance remixes of her cover of Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" race to No. 4 on the dance sales charts and become an instant club hit.
1998: Rising Tide disbands, and Dolly moves to Decca Records, another unit of MCA/Universal. Hungry Again is released to massive critical acclaim but little sales success.
1999: Decca Records closes when its parent company merges with another record label, and Dolly is not picked up by the parent label MCA. Asylum Records releases the long-awaited Trio II project recorded nearly five years earlier with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, being both a critical and sales success, reaching No. 4 on Billboard's country charts. Dollywood opens the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame, and to celebrate, Dolly releases her first gospel album in nearly three decades sold only at Dollywood and records a TNN television special with it. It is announced that Dolly is filming three television movies, two for Lifetime and one for CBS (Lifetime's Blue Valley Songbird airs later in the year, but the other two have yet to be filmed). It is also announced that Dolly is to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame that fall. Her first bluegrass album, The Grass Is Blue, is released on the independent Sugar Hill Records and Dolly's own Blue Eye Records to be heralded by a majority of music critics in the country as one of the best albums of the year of all genres.
2000: Dolly rings in the new year with a concert at Nashville's Opryland Hotel. She also hosts the Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles. Trio II picks up a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. The Grass Is Blue wins the Association For Independent Music Awards' Best Bluegrass Album award and International Bluegrass Music Association Awards' Album of The Year. Dolly also picks up the British Country Music Association's Top International Independent Label Artist award.
2001: The Grass Is Blue wins the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. Dolly releases her follow-up to that CD, the bluegrass and folk-based Little Sparrow, again hailed as a triumph by critics, reaching No. 12 U.S. country and holding onto Britain's No. 1 country album spot for two full months.
2002: Little Sparrow wins the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for its single "Shine" and is named the Association For Independent Music Awards' Best Bluegrass Album. Dolly releases a third bluegrass-influenced CD, Halos & Horns, complete with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven," and promotes the album by touring for the first time in a decade. The CD debuts at No. 4 on the U.S. country albums chart and No. 1 on Britain's.
2003: Halos garners Dolly two more Grammy nominations and her first nomination for Female Vocalist Of The Year at the CMA Awards in 16 years. Sugar Hill releases Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, a star-studded tribute album. Welk Music Group releases a new collection of patriotic and spiritual songs by Dolly titled For God And Country. She serves as keynote speaker to the 2003 National PTA Conference, and two of her songs are named by CMT among the 100 Greatest Songs Of Country Music. She opens her fourth Dixie Stampede dinner theatre, this one in Orlando, Fla., and headlines at the annual Capitol Fourth concert in Washington, D.C., in July.