Dolly Parton expressed her support for Elle King after the latter sparked controversy last month with an apparently drunken performance at a special Grand Ole Opry concert celebrating Parton's 78th birthday.

“Elle is a great artist, she’s a great girl,” Parton said in her first interview about the incident in Extra. “She's been going through a lot of hard things lately and has been drinking a little too much. So let’s forgive that, let it go, and move on, because she felt worse than anyone ever could.”

During the show, King appeared to forget the words while singing Parton's song “Marry Me.”

“I don’t know the words to these things in this fucking town,” she said. “Don’t tell Dolly because it’s her birthday.”

In videos posted to TikTok, King's bandmates tried to get her back on track by suggesting she perform one of her own songs. “I can barely play someone else’s song, let me see if I can play one of my own,” she replied.

Additionally, at one point, King appeared to admit that she was intoxicated, telling the crowd, “Hello, my name is Elle King and I'm devastated.”


The show, as is typical of the Grand Ole Opry, was broadcast live at 6:50 a.m. WSM, and the station reportedly received a number of complaints about King's performance. In response to an upset fan on Twitter, the Grand Ole Opry said, “We deeply regret and apologize for the language used during the Opry’s second performance last night.”

Even before the Grand Ole Opry show, fans raised concerns about King, with some suggesting she was drunk on stage while performing at a New Year's Eve concert in Nashville. Since then, King has postponed several tour dates scheduled for February, although she has yet to release any type of public statement. She is currently scheduled to return to the stage on March 1 for an appearance at the baseball-themed Extra Innings Fest in Tempe, Arizona.