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Dolly Parton Says She’d Prefer to ‘Drop Dead’ While Performing Than Retire

Rosemary Giles
Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest / WireImage / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest / WireImage / Getty Images

If you want to find a celebrity dedicated to their career, look no further than country music star Dolly Parton. In a recent interview with Greatest Hits Radio, she revealed exactly what it would take for her to stop performing, and let’s just say it isn’t retirement. Before you get any ideas, there’s no way she would agree to have Artificial Intelligence (AI) help her out, and she’s been outspoken against this new technology.

An incredible career

One would think that with a career like Dolly Parton’s, there wouldn’t be much left for her to accomplish. Of course, she is best known as a singer, but she has done so much more than that. Even after being in the industry for over 50 years, she is releasing her first true rock and roll album in November 2023, Rockstar!. Outside of her music, she is an owner of The Dollywood Company, which manages many theme parks and other entertainment venues.

Young Dolly Parton sitting with her guitar in front of a waterwheel with a 'Dollywood' sign.
Dolly Parton poses for a portrait with her guitar at Dollywood, c. 1993. (Photo Credit: Ron Davis/ Getty Images)

She even broke into acting and has produced a number of TV specials about her own life. As if all this wasn’t enough, she has an incredible history as a philanthropist. To name only a few endeavors, she started Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, has raised funds for numerous medical charities, and has been heavily involved in both education and poverty relief charities in her home state of Tennessee.

Not even close to retirement

If you think this would have earned her time to relax, you’d be wrong. Although she is already 77 years old, Dolly feels very strongly that she isn’t ready to retire yet – or ever. She explained it all to Ken Bruce, host of Greatest Hits Radio, in July 2023. Dolly said, “I would never retire. I’ll just hopefully drop dead in the middle of a song onstage someday, hopefully one I’ve written.”

Dolly Parton in all black singing into a microphone on a dark stage.
Dolly Parton performs onstage during the 58th Academy Of Country Music Awards at The Ford Center at The Star, May 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: Theo Wargo/ Getty Images)

She continued, “But anyway, that’s how I hope to go because we don’t have much of a choice in that. As long as I’m able to work, as long as my health is good and my husband is good, the only way that I would ever slow down would be for that reason.” Explaining that she is “not one to sit around doing nothing,” she plans to “make hay while the sun shines.”

A hologram is a no-go

So, Dolly Parton fans, it looks like you don’t have to worry about your favorite singer going anywhere anytime soon. Now, if you’re thinking that an AI hologram of the singer would allow Dolly to finally get some rest, but still ‘perform,’ think again. She has been quite outspoken against this idea. She talked about the possibility of a hologram show at a press conference in London, England.

Dolly Parton in stage behind a microphone wearing a golden dress holding her arms up.
Dolly Parton performs on stage at The Dominion Theatre, March 29th, 1983. (Photo Credit: Pete Still/ Redferns/ Getty Images)

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Dolly said, “I think I’ve left a great body of work behind. I have to decide how much of that high-tech stuff I want to be involved [with] because I don’t want to leave my soul here on this earth.” She promised that, even without using holograms, “I’ll be around, we’ll find ways to keep me here.” She even joked that already, any intelligence she had was artificial.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.