It’s Miss Dolly playing the guitar while wearing a leather jacket covered with rhinestones. Dolly Parton closed the 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony by accepting her title as America’s newest high priestess of the genre despite previously choosing to remove herself from the nomination process because she felt she “didn’t earn that right”—a refusal that, it should be noted, was dismissed by the organization.
“I’m a rock star now!” Parton said at the event. “This is a very special night for me.” According to Entertainment Weekly, the Grammy winner then said that she composed a brand-new song titled “Rockin’” just for the occasion. Parton changed into a rock and roll leather attire before performing the new song on stage while carrying an electric guitar.
Addressing her previous decision to withdraw from the nomination process, Parton stated: “I’m sure a lot of you knew that back when they said they were gonna put me in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I didn’t feel like I had done enough to deserve that. I didn’t understand at the time that it’s about more than that, but I’m just so honored and so proud to be here tonight.”
According to Vulture, Parton said that her upcoming album will be an ode to rock music, unlike her country influences. The 76-year-old declared, “I’m going to have to earn it if I’m going to go in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The icon performed her latest track with the Zac Brown Band and later sang her popular song “Jolene” accompanied by Brandi Carlile, Pink and fellow inductees Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran and Rob Halford of Judas Priest.
The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee requested that her nomination for the event be removed back in March. “Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right,” she said in a statement shared on Twitter. However, in the end, Parton accepted the nomination when the Hall turned down her request to withdraw. In a message posted on social media in May, she stated, “I am honored and humbled by the fact that I have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, I will accept it gracefully. Thanks to everyone that voted for me and to everyone at the @rockhall. I will continue to work hard and try to live up to the honor.”
As we previously reported, to be eligible for the nomination, artists must have published their first commercial recording 25 years earlier even though the inductees are not required to record them in the rock genre. Devo, Duran Duran and Rage Against the Machine were a few of the other musicians nominated along with Parton for the honor. Rock has always had a broad meaning and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a rockstar.
Some people think of “rock” as a type of music, while others see it as an attitude. When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame held an official fan vote, it was the latter group of fans that chose to support Parton. With over 30,000 votes, Parton finished in fourth place among the other finalists.
One performer who made an effort to expand the boundaries of the rock and roll genre was Ice Cube. Fellow N.W.A members Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and the late Eazy-E were all inducted in 2016. Cube said, “Rock and roll is not an instrument, rock and roll is not even a style of music. Rock and roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit.”
Ice Cube may have a different definition of rock and roll than Dolly Parton, but if we were to use Ice Cube’s definition, there’s no denying that Dolly Parton is rock and roll. She has always forged her own path in life and in the music business, and she will do so in perpetuity.