Dolly Parton has done a lot of incredible things in her long career. In addition to writing and recording countless classic tunes, she’s given away over 100 million books to kids in need, funded research that led to the COVID vaccine, and built her own successful amusement park.
Now, as she heads back to the studio for her next album, Parton will try to truly do the impossible: reunite Led Zeppelin.
Parton says she’s hoping to reunite Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to play “Stairway to Heaven” with her on her new album — and if anyone can pull it off, it’s Dolly Parton.
Dolly Parton — rock and roll album
The “9 to 5” singer, long associated with her distinct country pop tunes, is currently working on broadening her musical horizons with a rock and roll album.
News of this genre-shifting project was first announced when Dolly was nominated for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some wondered if Parton, despite her talents, was really right for the hall honoring rock music — and she agreed.
Parton declined the nomination, not wanting to take votes away from someone more worthy, and said while she was “extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated” she felt she hadn’t “earned that right.”
However, she also hinted at a future foray into rock and roll music that might make her “worthy” in the future: “This has… inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do!” Parton wrote.
Despite her humble objections, Parton stayed on the ballot, got voted in by fans and will be inducted next year. And, still determined to prove herself truly worthy as a “rock and roll” musician, Parton has begun to make her dreams of a rock album a reality.
“I had always wanted to do it,” she said in an interview with Pollstar. “My husband is a big hard rock ’n’ roll fan, and for years I thought, ‘One of these days I’d like to do an album mainly just for him, just to kind of do it.’ When I got nominated, I thought, ‘Why not just go ahead and do it while the iron’s hot? Maybe have some of the greats, the legends of rock ‘n’ roll sing along with me.'”
And Parton has one surprisingly ambitious plan for this new album: reuniting Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to re-record their most famous track, “Stairway to Heaven.”
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin, one of the best-selling, influential and acclaimed bands in rock and roll history.
While fans have begged for more Zeppelin for decades, the band has been officially broken up since 1980, with the death of drummer John Bonham often cited as the central reason.
The surviving members of the band have only performed together once, a sold-out 2007 benefit concert in honor of in honor of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. The performance was well-received and the bandmates expressed interest in a full reunion, but Plant declined, and conversations of a Zeppelin reunion have stalled.
“We’re 41 years into it now,” Plant told Mojo News in 2021. “The conversation doesn’t really go on now, because that spaceship has [departed].”
But if there’s anyone who can change their mind and get the members of Led Zeppelin back to the studio, it’s Dolly Parton, who wants Plant and Page to guest on her new album, backing her own cover of “Stairway to Heaven.”
“I’m trying to see if Robert Plant might sing on it. Maybe Jimmy Page might do the pick-up part on it,” Parton said.
Page and Plant have not performed together since 2007. It’s not clear yet how serious Parton’s plan is, how it will come about or if she plans to include the other living members of the band as well.
But it does seem that Parton is fully determined to take on “Stairway to Heaven” a rock classic that she already has some history with.
She recorded a cover of the song on her album Halo and Horns, reinventing it as a country tune with bluegrass guitar:
But in her new album, she plans to return the song to its heavy rock and roll roots, with a new version faithful to the original.
“When I do the rock album, I’m going to actually re-record it – and do it more true to the regular record,” Parton told Pollstar.
In addition to the hopeful addition of Page and Plant, Parton plans to have other guest stars on her album: “I’m looking forward to dragging in some of the great classic people, girls and boys, to sing on some of the songs. I’m not far enough along to discuss who and what, but I am going to do an album.”
We would absolutely love to hear a collaboration between Dolly Parton and Led Zeppelin — that sounds like many music lover’s dream come true. We hope Dolly can get the band in the recording studio together!
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