On March 11, 2017, Dolly Parton was forced to say her final goodbye to a life-long friend and former manager, Don Warden. He was 87 years old and our deepest condolences go out to Parton and Warden’s family.
When she heard the news, Dolly mourned the loss of the man who helped her become the star she is today. And after privately dealing with the loss, Dolly turned to Twitter to officially share the news with her millions of followers.
Two days after his departure, Parton wrote: “A huge piece of my life is gone. Rest in peace Don and know for sure that I will always love you.”
As you know, Dolly is an honorable Christian and would never let a friend pass on without a proper statement. So, she didn’t just tweet about it, she shared an entire blog post about how much Warden meant to her.
Not only was Warden a manager, he was a legendary singer and Steel Guitar Hall of Famer. He was born in Mt. Grove, Missouri and taught himself music as a child.
While most people knew him simply as Don Warden, Dolly always called him her “Mr. Everything.” She wanted to share some more about the amazing man and wrote:
“I’ve known and loved Don Warden since I joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. He was like a father, a brother, a partner and one of my best friends. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing today.”
After both left “The Porter Wagoner Show” in 1974, Warden served as Dolly’s loyal manager and her “Mr. Everything” for the next five decades.
Warden never wanted to retire, because that meant he would have to let music go, but his failing health forced it upon him. He received the Angel Award in 2008 during a concert at Dollywood. It would be the last time Dolly and Don Warden would share a stage together.
In her 1994 book called “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business”, she wrote the following about Warden:
“Anybody who knows him – and he knows everybody – looks up to him. At one time there was even a T-shirt being sold around Nashville that read ‘I KNOW DON WARDEN.’ People are still calling me and asking, ‘How can I get one of those Don Warden T-shirts?’ Sometimes it feels like people are only using me to get to Don.”
As a youngster, music was a huge part in Warden’s life. He formed a band in high school and graduated to a radio show on KWPM-AM in West Plains, Missouri. His band succeed and made their way to the Louisiana Hayride. But then in 1951, Warden stepped away from his band to serve in the U.S. Army.
Giving back to his country helped lead him to Dolly. In 1957, he joined the Grand Ole Opry with Porter and would go on to enjoy a 14-year run on “The Porter Wagoner Show” where he met Dolly Parton. The rest just fell into place.
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