Dolly Parton Discloses Punishment by Preacher Grandfather for Dressing Style

Country legend discloses harsh childhood experiences amid fame

by Nouman Rasool
Dolly Parton Discloses Punishment by Preacher Grandfather for Dressing Style
© Gareth Cattermole/GettyImages

Dolly Parton, the legendary country singer, recently unveiled a startling revelation regarding her childhood, exposing the harsh physical punishment she endured from her grandfather due to her choice in dress style. The candid disclosure was made during an intimate discussion with The Guardian, where the 77-year-old artist shared poignant memories of her early years, characterized by both ambition and resistance.

Parton, acclaimed for hits like "9 to 5" and "Jolene," has always been recognized for her distinctive and bold fashion choices, often opting for short skirts, low-cut tops, and vibrant lipstick. These selections were inspired by a local woman, known colloquially as 'the town tramp,' but they weren’t without consequence in her formative years. Dolly shared that her father and grandfather, notably Reverend Jake Owens, disapproved vehemently. Her unapologetic commitment to her style led to being "scolded" and "whipped" by her clergyman grandfather, as she dared to deviate from the expectations of her conservative upbringing.

Despite the emotional and physical pain from such disciplining, Parton conveyed a resilience and willingness to endure it for the sake of her passion and self-expression. "I was willing to pay for it. I’m very sensitive; I didn’t like being disciplined – it hurt my feelings so badly to be scolded or whipped or whatever. But sometimes there’s just that part of you that's willing, if you want something bad enough, to go for it," she confided to the publication.

Triumphant Through Adversity and Success

Dolly Parton’s journey from the hardships of her early years to a musical mogul with an empire exceeding £400 million is a testament to her unyielding perseverance and talent. As an artist who estimates she has penned around 3,000 songs and sold over 100 million records globally, Parton has had to navigate and overcome pervasive se*ism within the music industry. She unabashedly admitted to knowing how to "manoeuvre" through crowds of men and capably put a man "in his place."

Co-owner of the ‘Dollywood’ company, inclusive of a theme park and water park, Parton has expressed her unwavering dedication to her craft. In a conversation with Ken Bruce on Greatest Hits Radio in July, she affirmed her sentiment towards retirement: "I would never retire. I would hopefully drop dead in the middle of a song on stage someday – and hopefully one I've written – but that’s how I hope to go."

Today, her iconic and controversial fashion choices remain a symbol of her indomitable spirit, steadfastly unswayed by external pressures and undeterred by societal norms. This new revelation provides a deeper understanding of the woman beneath the wigs and sparkles, highlighting an intimate struggle within a public life, which continued to shine brightly in the face of adversity.

Dolly Parton