Dolly Parton Opened Up About Her 'Sweet, Good' Husband Carl Dean in This 1977 PEOPLE Exclusive

The country star put rumors to rest and gave a small glimpse into her Nashville life in this wide-ranging sit-down

<p>Tom Hill/WireImage</p> Dolly Parton in 1977

Tom Hill/WireImage

Dolly Parton in 1977

The year was 1977 and Dolly Parton's name was on everyone's lips. Rumors were swirling that the revered country star wanted to leave Nashville, but in an exclusive sit-down with PEOPLE, she assured fans she was there to stay.

Here, read the original PEOPLE story, and see more from your favorite celebrities in PEOPLE's special edition, 50 Years of Stars, on Amazon and newsstands now.

The coif still seems to be by Carvel, the makeup out of Wally Westmore. The clinging costume — well, if she sneezed, the exploding sequins could put a whole arena into the emergency room. The talent? She’s still the idol of better-known names like Linda Ronstadt, and says Emmylou Harris: “She’s one of the great writers — man or woman — and great singers of this generation.”

Her old mentor and duet partner Porter Wagoner declares, "She’s as creative as anyone I’ve ever met, including Hank Williams.” But, in every other aspect, the old Dolly Parton act ain’t what it used to be.

At 31, she has traumatically just fired her Travelin’ Family Band, which included four siblings, an uncle and a cousin. She’s split with Wagoner and replaced her manager with the hotshot Hollywood firm that handles Joan Rivers and Cher. Has the queen-to-be of country music abdicated even before Loretta Lynn stepped aside?

In fact, the reports of Dolly’s defection are greatly exaggerated. Sure, she’s gunning for new customers by merchandising an 11-in. Dolly doll (in perfect, preposterous scale), touring with Vegas cowboys like Mac Davis and becoming practically a regular on The Tonight Show. It’s true also that her current and first personally produced LP, New Harvest ... First Gathering, includes reworked R&B hits by Smokey Robinson and Jackie Wilson. But after all, which commandment decrees that a true country songstress can go gold or platinum only at her beauty parlor?

<p>Chris Walter/WireImage</p> Dolly Parton in 1977

Chris Walter/WireImage

Dolly Parton in 1977

Related: Janet Jackson Gave Rare Insight into Her Sheltered Life in a 1986 PEOPLE Interview: Read It Here (Exclusive)

As Parton herself justifies the new departure, “I want people to know there is a lot more to me — good or bad — than they’ve seen so far. All I’m asking is a chance to prove it. I needed to reorganize to try to make those dreams come true,” Dolly adds delicately, never saying what had been quietly acknowledged on Music Row: that the cornball combo of kinfolk was not up to the star (nor to the slick Gypsy Fever Band that’s taken over).

The PEOPLE Puzzler crossword is here! How quickly can you solve it? Play now!

“These are awfully hurtful decisions I’ve had to make,” winces Dolly. “I’ve suffered a lot, and I’ll suffer some more because of the great love I have for the people involved. I may be an eagle when I fly, but I’m a sparrow when it comes to feelings.”

“Many of my friends are afraid I might be screwing up,” Dolly admits of her own artistic accommodation with pop. “And,” she adds, “some are afraid I will do good. But I’ll never turn my back on the people who made me want to sing and write. I’m not leaving Nashville. Roots are important to me, and my roots are here.”

Related: 'How Do You Do It?' Read the First-Ever Exchange Between Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson (Exclusive)

She met her future husband, Carl Dean, now 35, at a laundromat in her first 24 hours in Nashville. Dean, a lanky Nashville native who owns an asphalt paving company, has resolutely stayed out of Dolly’s career throughout their 10-year marriage. He’s never even seen her perform. (Admittedly, the local deejays who leeringly introduce her at concerts with lines like “Dolly burned her bra — it took three days” wouldn’t encourage any husband.)

“He’s sort of shy and quiet,” Dolly understates. “What we have together is so sweet and good that I’d never want it to get jumbled up with the other.” When lonely, she phones an SOS to Carl to wing in for a couple of nights.

PEOPLE's 50 Years of Stars
PEOPLE's 50 Years of Stars

Dolly and Carl live outside Nashville in a 23-room Tara with 200 acres, a mobile home for her folks when they visit, 25 polled Herefords, two peacocks, two hounds and Dolly’s 17-year-old kid sister Rachel. Four other Partons were raised there. “I don’t know that I won’t have children someday,” she says. “But it’s just not possible for me to bear children and leave them for somebody else to raise while I have a career. If I wait until I’m naturally too old to have children, I can always adopt them.”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer​​, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

In the meantime there are her compositions. “When I listen to my own things, I think to myself, ‘I was the mother of that.’ ”

She has “lots of offers” to write or star in movies and is looking for a Mary Tyler Moore or Doris Day-style comedy. What’s next? “I may go to heavier lyrics or back to simple country on my next album. I had to try things my way. I can only be what I am. I’m Dolly Parton from the mountains, and that’s what I’ll remain."

PEOPLE's special edition, 50 Years of Stars, is available on Amazon and newsstands now.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.