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How Dolly Parton’s husband Carl Dean inspired her rock album: ‘He knows good music’

Dolly Parton at the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala earlier this month in Nashville./ Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s husband of 57 years, Carl Dean, helped inspire her upcoming rock album, “Rockstar.”

The country music icon has been hard at work on her rock-and-roll debut. She told ABC News in a interview Monday that Dean’s lifelong love for rock music played a part in her decision to jump genres.

“From the time I met him in 1964, he just had rock and roll blasting. That’s his music,” Parton said, later adding that it “works” to have different taste because “it gives us stuff to talk about.”

The catalyst for Parton’s foray into rock music came in 2022, when she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was an honor she initially declined, saying at the time she didn’t feel she’d “earned that right.”

Parton started working on “Rockstar” not long after.

“I did it because I’m in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Parton said of working on rock music. It was Dean, she said, who “really made me make that final decision to think, ‘You know what? I’ve got this great opportunity to do this, and I’m just gonna do it.’”

“Rockstar” includes 30-tracks in total, with nine original songs and 21 covers of rock songs. The album touts a “Let It Be” cover, featuring both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, plus collaborations with artists such as Elton John, Stevie Nicks and Peter Frampton, among others.

Parton covers the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven,” in collaboration with Lizzo, and she said Dean was impressed.

“For him to say, ‘That’s pretty good,’ he meant it’s really good. And that meant more to me than for anybody else to say the record was good,” she admitted.

Parton said that of the 21 covers, her selection of songs boiled down to those that Dean “liked and loved,” and that “most” of the songs she chose were because of her husband.

His opinion held special weight, she said, “’cause he knows good music.”

“Rockstar” releases Nov. 1. Parton’s full interview with ABC will air Tuesday at 10 

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