Dolly Parton's debut studio album, Hello, I'm Dolly was released 54 years ago on September 18, 1967, by Monument Records. The album was produced by Fred Foster. It peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Top Country albums chart and contained Dolly's first two hit singles, "Dumb Blonde" and "Something Fishy", which peaked at numbers 24 and 17, respectively, on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Let's take a look back at this record and how it came to be and how it helped launch Dolly's legendary career.
After graduating high school in May 1964, Dolly moved to Nashville the next day. Her initial success came as a songwriter, when Fred Foster, owner of Combine Music and Monument Records, signed her to a publishing and recording deal. During this early period at Monument, Dolly wrote songs that were recorded by a variety of artists. "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" had been recorded by Bill Phillips (with uncredited harmony vocals by Dolly) and released as a single in January 1966. It peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Skeeter Davis had recorded "Fuel to the Flame" and released it as a single in January 1967 and it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Hank Williams Jr. recorded "I'm in No Condition" and released it as a single in April 1967. It was the least successful of these three songs, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Though she was writing hit country songs, Fred Foster felt that Dolly's voice was not suited for country and tried to market her as a bubblegum pop singer with the release of her first five singles for the label: "What Do You Think About Lovin'" (1964), "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" (1965), "Busy Signal" (1966), "Don't Drop Out" (1966), and "The Little Things" (1966). The most successful of these releases was "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby", which managed to peak at number 108 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.
Following the success of Bill Phillips' recording of Dolly's composition "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" (featuring uncredited harmony by Dolly) in 1966, Foster was finally persuaded to allow her to record country material sometime in mid-1966, but there was still a long road ahead before Dolly's debut album would become a reality.
"Dumb Blonde" was released as a single on November 7, 1966, and debuted at number 64 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated January 21, 1967. It peaked at number 24 on the chart dated March 18, its ninth week on the chart. It seems that Dolly's debut album was intended to follow in February 1967, as this was the release date given in Dolly's 1994 autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business (and subsequently repeated online for years after the internet came into existence), but this release date can be thoroughly debunked based on some other sources which I'll get to a little later.
"Something Fishy", was released as a single on May 8, 1967, and debuted at number 61 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated June 10. It peaked at number 17 on the chart dated August 5, its ninth week on the chart, becoming Dolly's first top 20 hit. During an interview on June 7, 1967, Dolly states that her debut album should be out by the end of the month (this interview can be heard here, the album is discussed at the 13:30 mark), but the album was to see further delays.
Around this same time Norma Jean left The Porter Wagoner Show and Porter was looking for a new "girl singer" for his television show. Dolly had caught his attention with her two recent hit singles and she made her debut on the September 5, 1967, episode where she performed both songs.
Finally, after being delayed anywhere from three to six months, a September release was officially announced for Hello, I'm Dolly in Cashbox (issue dated September 30) and Record World (issue dated October 7). The album was released September 18, 1967, following Dolly's debut on The Porter Wagoner Show. The album received reviews from Billboard and Cashbox.
After Dolly joined the cast of The Porter Wagoner Show and released her debut album, her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, hosted the very first Dolly Parton Day on October 7, 1967. The day began with a welcoming ceremony at the Sevierville courthouse at 10:10 AM, followed by a stop in Pigeon Forge at noon, and an appearance in Gatlinburg at 1:00 PM. The day concluded with a "Big Country Music Show featuring Porter Wagoner & the Wagonmasters with Dolly Parton" at the Sevier County courthouse at 2:00 PM. Dolly and Porter loaded up and headed back to Nashville following the performance because that evening Dolly was going to make her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry since her debut in 1959 at age thirteen. She performed "Dumb Blonde" and a cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe". Dolly and Porter did not perform any duets during this Opry show, that wouldn't happen until November 25.
When Dolly graduated from high school in May 1964, she told her classmates she was going to Nashville to be a star and they all laughed. Three years later Dolly had written multiple top 20 country hits, charted two of her own, become a regular cast member on a nationwide syndicated television show, released her debut album, and returned to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Not bad for dirt poor little girl form east Tennessee.
Dolly has partnered with Puerto Rican musician and singer-songwriter José Feliciano on a new recording of her 1991 classic "Eagle When She Flies". The new single adds a Latin flair to Dolly's classic song. Feliciano tweeted about the single's release, saying that the song "calls to mind some remarkable women I’ve known in my life who exhibit just that, that Grace under Fire. It’s a beautiful thing. And the song, I believe, says exactly that."
Dolly originally wrote the song in 1989 for the film Steel Magnolias in which she starred, but it was ultimately not included in the film or its soundtrack album. Dolly later used the song as the title track of her 1991 album and released it as the album's third single, peaking at number 33 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
You can view the official lyric video below and the single is available to purchase or stream now wherever you get your music!