Backstage With Paul: Dolly Parton

In 1977, a local country music magazine asked me to do a photo shoot with a country star by the name of Dolly Parton. They gave me her hotel information and room number. It was a much calmer time in those days!

I showed up at the appointed time and knocked on her door. She had me sit down while she went into the bathroom to finish her makeup. In today’s world, there would be three people doing that for her. She sat down next to a window wearing a red shirt with a denim shirt over it, and I shot and talked to her for about a half hour.

About four months later, she came to town to play a show, and I decided to go out to say hello. How naïve was I? I asked for her at the backstage door, and she came out! She invited me in, and we talked while she got ready for the show. I then shot that show and many more during her career.

I saw her a few years ago when I went to her house in Nashville to shoot a cover for a magazine that did a story about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, her book donation charity in Tennessee. She was just as cordial as she was in the past, invited me into her home, and asked me to set up while THREE people did her hair and makeup.

Times may change, but some people never change!

– Paul

About Paul Natkin

Paul Natkin learned photography in the trenches, working  with his father, the team photographer of the Chicago Bulls. He shot sports in the Chicago area for five years before he discovered music photography in 1976. Since then, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and magazine covers for Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen), Ebony (Tina Turner), People (Prince), and music magazines around the world. See his work online at

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Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz is the Artist Relations Manager at Shure. He enjoys weekends, tacos and has a soft spot for the kind of lite rock music you’d hear in a dentist’s office.

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