Dolly Parton Stepped Away From Touring To Prioritize Her Husband: ‘I Kind Of Need To Be With Him’

Parton may never tour again, but she has plenty of projects to keep her busy.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

October 17, 2023


8:59 am

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Dolly Parton; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Despite the fact that Dolly Parton will soon be releasing a whole new collection of songs on her first rock ’n’ roll album, Rockstar, the country music icon has once again confirmed that she will not be returning to the road on any upcoming tours. 

Parton first announced this news through a special edition of Pollstar that dropped in October of 2022. Hearing Parton say, “I do not think I will ever tour again” came as a disheartening surprise to many fans and music lovers, seeing as how prior to that she had told host Ken Bruce of Greatest Hits Radio that she’d rather “drop dead” in the middle of an on-stage performance than retire. However, since then, it appears she has stuck to her decision to fall back from her many years of touring the world.

Why She Doesn’t Tour Anymore

While sitting down with TV host Nancy O’Dell and Good Housekeeping to discuss her upcoming album and the October 17 release of her bookBehind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, Parton shared a bit more insight into the factors that led to her leaving touring behind for good. 

Dolly Parton 'Rockstar' Art
Dolly Parton ‘Rockstar’ Art

Part of the reasoning stems from the fact that she has enough on her plate to keep her schedule full, with all her philanthropic work, hosting award shows, the Imagination Library and more. However, it appears the main factor appears to be that she simply wants to spend time with her husband of more than five decades, Carl Dean, and be there for him when needed.

“I don’t tour anymore,” the 77-year-old country music legend told the outlet. “I’ve got so many business things I’m doing. And my husband and I are getting older — he’s a little older than I am — and I kind of need to be with him.”

A Big Commitment

She also made note of the fact that touring, at any stage of one’s career, takes hard work and involves many long hours. 

“You got to be committed to that. And I did that all my life,” she said honestly. 

Dolly Parton; Photo by Miller Mobley, NBC
Dolly Parton; Photo by Miller Mobley, NBC

Will She Ever Retire?

Parton has already devoted so much of her life to bringing live music to fans everywhere and while she may not be touring in the same capacity, the “Jolene” singer went on to assure fans that she has no plans to retire, but as he once again explained, the health and well-being of her and her husband will always be her top priority.

“I might take off of you know, a month instead of a week, but no, I don’t plan to ever retire unless my husband was sick and really needed me, or I was sick, that’d be the only two reasons I would ever quit.”

Parton concluded her statement by saying that she hopes “that never happens.”

Dolly Parton, Carl Dean; Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton, Carl Dean; Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton

How She Met Carl Dean

Since the day the pair of lovebirds met, they have only continued to look out for each other. That fateful day came shortly after Parton had just moved to Nashville. She was 18 years old and was doing laundry at the Wishy Washy Laundromat when Dean, 21, drove by in his pickup truck and stopped to warn her that she might end up with a sunburn from wearing a revealing outfit.

“I was surprised and delighted that while he talked to me, he looked at my face (a rare thing for me),” Parton wrote of the encounter on her website. “He seemed to be genuinely interested in finding out who I was and what I was about.”

Luckily, it seems Dean shared the same infatuation for the blonde-haired woman in front of him.

“My first thought was I’m gonna marry that girl,” Dean said in 2016. “My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin.’ And that was the day my life began.”

Dolly Parton, Carl Dean; Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton, Carl Dean; Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton

Got Married In 1966

Parton and Dean dated for two years before they married in a private ceremony on May 30, 1966. The ceremony took place in a small church with only a few guests including Parton’s mother, Avie Lee, and the preacher and his wife.

Over the course of their relationship, it’s become clear that Dean prefers to stay out of the spotlight and as a result, the two have rarely been seen in public together, despite Parton’s celebrity status. Maintaining the privacy of their relationship has proved to be one of the key components to having many years of love. 

New Album Coming Soon

The Country Music Hall of Famer is currently preparing to release Rockstar, her 48th studio album, on November 17. This unique collection features 30 tracks including nine Dolly originals and 21 covers of some of the most iconic rock hits of all time.

“We’ve got a lot of wonderful, great celebrities — a lot of the older rock artists — in addition to all these iconic, wonderful songs,” she previously told Good Morning America of the project.

The star-studded project will feature collaborations with more than two dozen musical acts including Richie Sambora, Sting, Steve Perry, Ann Wilson, John Fogerty, Kid Rock, Steven Tyler, Warren Hayes, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Chris Stapleton, Miley Cyrus, P!nk, Brandi Carlile, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, Lizzo, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Nikki Sixx, John 5, Linda Perry, and more.

Fans have already gotten a glimpse into the genre-bending collection through songs like “World On Fire,” “Bygones (feat. Rob Halford),” “Magic Man (Carl Version) (feat. Ann Wilson), a cover of the classic Beatles hit “Let It Be,” and her latest release, another revamped cover of “What’s Up?” (feat. Linda Perry). 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.