Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston are two of America’s biggest singers ever. But did you know the incredible links between the two late star?
Back in 1963, Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston became part of a backing singer group called The Sweet Inspirations who performed around the USA with some huge headliners like Aretha Franklin. Another of them was Elvis Presley at his Las Vegas residencies, which began in 1969.
Cissy, who said he wasn’t prejudiced, cracked jokes and was so good-looking, recalled: “Elvis loved gospel music. He was raised on it. And he really did know what he was talking about. He was singing Gospel all the time – almost anything he did had that flavour. You can’t get away from what your roots are.”
Dolly replied: “Well, that throws a new light on this because I can’t give you half the publishing. I’m gonna leave that to my family. I can’t do that.”
The infamously uncompromising manager then told her that The King could not cover the song without those terms but the Country star remained unrelenting and burst into tears.
Dolly shared: “I cried all night. Oh, I just pictured Elvis, like, singing it. And I know that Elvis loved it. And I know it wasn’t him, but it’s true. I said no.”
Nevertheless, keeping the rights massively paid off for Dolly when Whitney recorded a cover for The Bodyguard movie in 1992.
Houston’s version of I Will Always Love You spent a record-breaking 14 weeks at No 1 in the US Billboard charts and is the best-selling single by a female artist and the sixth biggest single of all time with over 20 million sales. In fact, the cover just beats Elvis’ It’s Now or Never into seventh place.
Dolly later said that although she declined The King’s offer for half the copyright: “When Whitney [Houston’s version] came out, I made enough money to buy Graceland.”