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Elle King sobbed after drunken Dolly Parton birthday tribute performance, admits 'I was mortified'

Elle King spoke out for the first time about her drunken performance at Dolly Parton's 78th birthday tribute at the Grand Ole Opry in January,

Elle King spoke out for the first time about her drunken performance during Dolly Parton's 78th birthday celebration at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry in January.

The 34-year-old country star sparked backlash after she fumbled lyrics, cursed at the audience and admitted she was "hammered" during a tribute to Parton at the famed music venue.

During an appearance Thursday on the "Dear Chelsea," podcast, King opened up about the incident.

"I haven’t spoken about it, because, one, I had to just chill. It was a big deal," the "Ex's and Oh's" singer told podcast host Chelsea Handler.


"I had been going through something very heavy and traumatic in my life at the time."

The Ohio native noted there were two shows celebrating Parton at the Grand Ole Opry on the day of her performance.

"And that day was a really big day dealing with what I was going through, and that I’m still going through, and I suffer from severe PTSD," King said.

"I hadn't eaten, I hadn't slept in days and I was really overwhelmed. I was like a shell of myself."

King recalled that she was asked if she could fill in as the headliner after another singer dropped out three hours before the back-to-back shows due to a snowstorm. 

The four-time Grammy Award nominee told Handler that the first show was 'f------ perfect," but trouble ensued after she drank between performances.

"I take one shot too many, and I'm just not there in my body. I'm not there," King said. 

"I don't even remember what I said. I know now what I said. I said. 'I'm Elle King and I'm f------ hammered.' And I got the curtain dropped on me.

"And then, I just get flashes of this. And I was totally 100% disassociated. Cut to the dressing room. Me on the floor, just sobbing."

After the concert, King faced backlash after clips from her performance circulated online. In a video obtained by Fox News Digital, the California native can be seen trying to perform Parton's song "Marry Me." Swearing profusely, King admitted that her performance was "f---ing bad" and made a joke about people expecting her to know the lyrics.


In a separate video shared to TikTok, King can be heard telling people in the crowd they were not getting their money back.

"I'll tell you one thing more. I'll tell you one thing more," she said. "Hi, my name is Elle King. I'm f------ hammered." 

After her band suggested she play one of her own songs, King replied, "I can barely play another person's song. Let me see if I can play one of mine."


"The next day it was, like, everywhere. Everywhere. And I was mortified," King told Handler of the viral clips.

After the tribute, the Grand Ole Opry issued an apology on X, saying, "We deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance."

King told Handler she sent handwritten letters of apology to both Parton and the Grand Ole Opry.

"And Dolly called me a couple days later," King recalled. "Literally, she's proof that angels exist. She just gave me really kind words and told me, ‘Well, Dolly’s not mad at you. Why should the world be?' And made me laugh."

King said she will "never forget" the kindness she received from Parton.

"Because I wanted to f------ die," she said. "I had to, like, remove myself from the population for a while because it just wasn't getting any better."

King said she didn't feel she owed anyone an explanation regarding the personal struggles she was facing at the time of the performance.

"And I also don't think that it does excuse the fact that maybe I shouldn't have f------ been drinking," she said. "This is like a sacred stage, and I f----- up.


"And, so, for all the people who are asking for an apology from me, 'Hey, if you were there that night and I didn't get a chance to say I'm sorry to you, I apologize,'" King said.

In March, King broke her silence on social media, sharing an Instagram clip of herself running up the stairs in the O2 arena in London in workout gear.

"To everyone sending me love because I’m human and already talked to Dolly…I love you," the caption said

"To everyone who told me to k*ll myself I love you too.

"Oh no was my human showing."

She added the hashtag WWDD, possibly referring to "What Would Dolly Do?"

During her appearance on "Dear Chelsea," King addressed her post, explaining it was a response to the nasty messages she received on social media.

"People were telling me to surrender my child, that I'm an unfit mother and that I should off myself," recalled King, who shares son Lucky, 2, with her ex-fiance Dan Tooker.

"Maybe I did have a little aggression built up because of that," she admitted. "Like, don't even say it. No one is going to be harder on me than me. I was very, very hard on myself.

"And I'm mortified."

However, the singer noted the incident was a wake-up call and inspired her to strive for self-improvement.

"That was me hitting a massive brick wall, and I made changes in my life. And I feel like I'm becoming a stronger person because of it," King said.

"I'm not grateful for it," she added. "But, at the same time, I'm like, I can find a silver lining in literally anything, and I'm going to choose to use this as a tool to not defeat me, but to make me hopefully a better person. And I can learn from my mistakes.

"Now, I don't drink before I go up and sing," King said. "And they're the best shows I've ever played. And I'm proud to say that."

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