Dolly Parton was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Nov. 5, and she made the most of the honor. The country legend celebrated the special occasion by performing a brand-new song, aptly titled “Rockin.'” Clad in a bejeweled black leather outfit, Parton played an electric guitar and went into full rock-star mode for the gala event in Los Angeles, where she even performed alongside Judas Priest rocker Rob Halford for a collaboration most probably never imagined.
“If I’m going to go in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I’m going to have to earn it,” Parton said during the ceremony. “And you thought I couldn’t rock and roll.”
For the record: We never thought that, Dolly. But when she was nominated earlier this year, Parton said she wasn’t sure if she belonged in the museum, which celebrates rock icons from Jimi Hendrix to Bob Dylan to Kiss. In March, the music icon said she was taking herself out of the 2022 nomination list because she didn’t feel worthy, but the nomination had inspired her to finally make a rock record, “which I have always wanted to do!”
The hall has expanded its selections in recent years to include non-rock acts, but Parton is part of a relatively small list of artists mostly associated with country music to have been inducted, joining Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams.
“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,” Parton wrote on Twitter when she declined her nomination. “I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out. I do hope that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again – if I’m ever worthy.”
Thankfully, the humble country singer from Tennessee finally decided she would put her hat back in the ring a few weeks later.
Other nominees for the 2022 class included Eminem, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Kate Bush, Devo, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, Dionne Warwick, Rage Against the Machine, Duran Duran and others. Ultimately, Parton was selected as one of seven new inductees for the Performers category.
“I’m a rock star now!” Parton said at the ceremony. “This is a very special night for me. 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. And 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.”
Pink had the honor of inducting Parton, while Benatar, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Simon Le Bon, Brandi Carlile and Halford joined Dolly Parton on stage to sing her iconic song, “Jolene.” Highlights from the entire ceremony will air on HBO on Nov. 19 and be available for streaming on HBO Max.