“I Will Always Love You” broke several records and became Houston’s signature song
Whitney Houston starts a record-breaking 14 week at No.1 on the Hot 100 with “I Will Always Love You” in 1992
On November 28th 1992, Whitney Houston breaks several records by reaching No.1 at the Hot 100 with her rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, the theme song from the movie “The Bodyguard” starring Houston as the lead actress. The song remained a record-breaking fourteen weeks at No.1, Similarly, in the UK, Houston’s version was ranked the number one single of 1992, and then made the countdown again in 1993 where it was ranked number nine, marking the first time any artist or group had the same single ranked in the top 10 of the year-end review two years in a row, Houston’s 10-week reign in the UK set the record for the longest run at the top by a solo female artist in the history of the British singles chart, In Japan, “I Will Always Love You” sold over 810,000 copies, staying for 27 weeks on the chart, and became the best-selling single by a foreign female artist at the time, despite not topping the charts. Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” was certified four times Platinum in the US for shipments of over 4 million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America on January 12, 1993, making Houston the first female artist with a single to reach that level in RIAA history. According to Nielsen SoundScan, as of 2009, the single had sold 4,591,000 copies, and had become the second best-selling physical single in US alone. The song was written in 1973 by Dolly Parton and first released by the country singer in 1974. Parton’s version of “I Will Always Love You” was a commercial success however it’s Whitney Houston’s version that remains the most popular one worldwide, such was the difference from the original. But actually Houston was originally to record Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” as the lead single from “The Bodyguard”, however, when it was discovered the song was to be used for the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”, Houston requested a different song. It was her co-star Kevin Costner who suggested “I Will Always Love You”, her record company did not feel a song with an a cappella introduction would be as successful, but Houston and Costner insisted on retaining it.
When Parton heard that Houston was using the 1975 Linda Ronstadt’s version as a template, she called Houston’s producer David Foster to give him the final verse, which was missing from the Ronstadt recording, as she felt it was important to the song. Houston received several awards worldwide for the song such as the 1994 Grammy Award for Record of the Year, and Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Only a few hours after Houston’s death on February 11, 2012, “I Will Always Love You” topped the US iTunes charts. Also, in the week following her death, the single returned to the Billboard Hot 100 after almost 20 years, debuting at number 7, and becoming a posthumous top-ten single for Houston, the first one since 2001. The song eventually peaked at No. 3, two spots shy of becoming the first song to return to the No. 1 position after falling off the chart since “The Twist” by Chubby Checker. Dolly Parton released a statement to Billboard on the day Whitney Houston died: “Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston. I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.”
Look back at the iconic 1993 music video for “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
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