Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Dolly Parton has been able to do something Lynyrd Skynyrd couldn’t — record a song using vocals from the late Ronnie Van Zant.

In an interview with Classic Rock magazine about her new album, Rockstar, she says, “Kent Wells has been my guitar player, arranger/producer and bandleader for thirty-some years.

“When I was getting ready to do Rockstar, he was busy producing an album for Lynyrd Skynyrd. They knew Kent worked with me, so they asked if I would sing on a new version of ‘Free Bird’, and it turned out really good.

“Later on I said to Kent: ‘What about putting ‘Free Bird’ on my rock album too, if we get permission from them to do it?’ So that’s what we did. Then Ronnie Van Zant’s widow Judy said that she’d let us use his voice on the track. She wouldn’t allow Lynyrd Skynyrd to do it, but she said: ‘I’ll do it for Dolly!’ So we got to use Ronnie on there. We had already recorded it, but his phrasing was so simple that they just dropped his vocal in.”

In addition to Van Zant, her version also includes Skynyrd’s late guitarist Gary Rossington, and their former drummer Artimus Pyle.

“Some of them hadn’t gotten together for a while,” adds Dolly, “but one of their daughters said: ‘You gotta do it!’ So they actually mended some fences there, and I felt very blessed to be part of all that…

“We were so heartbroken when [Gary died this past March] because we’d done that track with [him] not long before [he passed].

“Right now, some of my crew are trying their best to see if we can actually get some footage of Gary and Ronnie Van Zant and try to incorporate that into a possible video. I’d love to make that work. Wouldn’t that be something?”

Rockstar, which also features contributions from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Sting, Chris Stapleton, Pink, Richie Sambora, John Fogerty, Steven Tyler, Steve Perry, Stevie Nicks and others, will finally be out this Friday, November 17th.