Dolly Parton Hopes Fans 'Forgive' and 'Forget' Elle King's Drunken Grand Ole Opry Incident: 'She's a Great Girl'

Last month, the Grand Ole Opry apologized after King performed in tribute to Parton and told patrons she was "hammered" on stage

Dolly Parton doesn't hold animosity toward Elle King.

After King told patrons she was "f---ing hammered" and admitted to forgetting lyrics to Parton's "Marry Me" during a Grand Ole Opry performance celebrating the country icon's 78th birthday at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last month, the "Jolene" singer is coming to her defense.

"Elle is really a great artist," said Parton of the "Ex's and Oh's" musician, 34, in an interview with Extra. "She’s a great girl, and she’s been going through of hard things lately."

Related: Grand Ole Opry Apologizes to Audience Member After Elle King Performed 'Hammered' at Dolly Parton Tribute

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty Images for American Greetings; Hubert Vestil/Getty</p> Dolly Parton; Elle King

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for American Greetings; Hubert Vestil/Getty

Dolly Parton; Elle King

The Grammy-winning superstar continued, "She just had a little too much to drink, so let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on, 'cause she felt worse than anyone ever could."

During the concert on Jan. 19 — which also featured performances from Ashley MonroeTigirlily Gold, Dailey & Vincent and Terri Clark — King, 34, could be seen going back-and-forth with audience members about refunds in several videos shared to TikTok.

The exchange followed King seemingly singing in gibberish — and improvisational lines about her not knowing the lyrics to "Marry Me" — while she was admittedly impaired.

Related: Elle King Reschedules 5 Upcoming Concerts Following 'Hammered' Grand Ole Opry Incident

<p>Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty</p> Elle King

Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty

Elle King

"I don't know the lyrics to these things in this f---ing town," King sang. "Don't tell Dolly 'cause it's her birthday."

She later added after the song: "Everyone's like, holy s---, we bought tickets to this s---. I'm not even going to lie," she said while putting her hands in her pockets. "Holy s---. I'm not even going to f---ing lie. Y'all bought tickets for this s---?"

After telling fans that they "ain't gettin' your money back," a crowd member then responded with "I don't want it."

Related: Dolly Parton Wants to Hold a 'Finding Dolly' Contest to Cast Her Upcoming Broadway Musical (Exclusive)

<p>Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty</p> Elle King in Las Vegas in May 2022

Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Elle King in Las Vegas in May 2022

"Good, 'cause you ain't getting it," King quipped.

According to a TikTok user who attended the show, King swore on stage "about 15 times" before the exchange with the crowd and "forgot the words to the Dolly song she was supposed to sing." The venue then "shut the curtain on her," per the TikToker.

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

Related: Dolly Parton Jokes Her Husband Was 'Jealous' of Her Viral Cheerleader Outfit: 'He Got a Kick Out of It' (Exclusive)

Scott Dudelson/Getty for Stagecoach Elle King performing in April 2023
Scott Dudelson/Getty for Stagecoach Elle King performing in April 2023

A rep for King has not commented on the incident.

One day later, the Grand Ole Opry responded to fan concerns on X (formerly twitter), after one attendee said King "ruined the night with her horrible, drunk, and profane performance," calling it "a shame we all had to witness that."

"Hi Judas, we deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night’s second Opry performance," the Opry wrote in response.

<p>PolkImaging/Penske Media via Getty Images</p> Elle King performs in Milwaukee in June 2023

PolkImaging/Penske Media via Getty Images

Elle King performs in Milwaukee in June 2023

Days after the incident, King rescheduled several upcoming concerts for later this year.

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King previously spoke with the San Diego Tribune in 2022 about performing drunk, sharing that she doesn't want to get as drunk as she used to on stage.

Jason Kempin/Getty Elle King in Nashville in November 2022
Jason Kempin/Getty Elle King in Nashville in November 2022

"It's easier for me to say: 'Yeah, I want to drink and party and [then] go on stage,'" she said. "I get nervous before I go on stage, [so] I have couple of drinks [first]. Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don't make them, it won't sting as much."

King added that she puts "being a mother way, way, way above having a good time." The singer shares 2-year-old son Lucky Levi with Daniel Tooker.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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