The birthday celebration for Dolly Parton took an unexpected turn when a rather inebriated Elle King took the stage during “Opry Goes Dolly” at the historic Ryman Auditorium on Friday evening (Jan. 19). The event was meant to honor the iconic singer on her 78th birthday and featured a lineup of stars, including Terri Clark, Tigirlily, Ashley Monroe, and more. However, it was Elle King’s performance that stole the spotlight, and not necessarily for the right reasons.
After introducing herself, the 34-year-old artist candidly admitted to being “f-ing hammered,” setting the tone for a performance that left the audience both surprised and concerned. Attempting to sing Dolly’s 2001 hit, “Marry Me,” King took creative liberties by altering the lyrics with profanity and expressing her lack of familiarity with the song, humorously adding, “Don’t tell Dolly ’cause it’s her birthday.”
Witnessing the crowd’s shocked reactions, Elle King acknowledged it by declaring, “You ain’t getting your money back.” When a bandmate suggested she perform one of her own songs instead, she humorously responded, “I can barely play another person’s song, let me see if I can play one of mine.”
As videos of Elle King’s unconventional performance circulated online, fans expressed a mix of shock and concern. Some deemed her antics “disrespectful” and labeled the performance “a disgrace,” while others expressed hopes for her to seek assistance.
In response to fan complaints, the Grand Ole Opry issued an apology on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance.”