"I Will Always Love You" is a song by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. The country track was released on June 6, 1974 as the second single from Parton's thirteenth solo studio album, Jolene (1974). The singer wrote the song, which was recorded on June 13, 1973, for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, from whom she was professionally splitting at the time.
In 1992, singer Whitney Houston recorded the song for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, her film debut. Houston was originally to record Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, it was discovered the song was to be used for Fried Green Tomatoes, so Houston requested a different song.
Houston and producer David Foster re-arranged "I Will Always Love You" as an R&B ballad. Her record company did not feel a song with an a cappella introduction would be as successful; however, Houston and Costner insisted on retaining the a cappella intro. The tenor saxophone solo was played by Kirk Whalum.
Houston's version was a massive worldwide success. It appears at No. 9 on NME's "Greatest No 1 Singles in History" list. In 2004, Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" finished at number 65 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. It was also ranked at number 22 on The Guardian's list of Britain's favorite 100 songs, published in May 2002.
The single spent 14 weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, which at the time was a record. The single became Houston's longest run at number one, smashing her previous record, which was three weeks with 1986's, "Greatest Love of All." It is also the longest running number one single from a soundtrack album.
The single debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Houston's tenth number one hit a mere two weeks later. It also dominated various other Billboard charts, spending 14 weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart and 11 weeks at number one on its Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song also stayed at number one for five weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and for 11 weeks on the Hot R&B Singles chart becoming the longest running number one on the R&B charts at the time, and remained in the top 40 for 24 weeks. It became Arista Records' biggest hit. The song was number one on the Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and R&B chart simultaneously for a record-equaling five weeks; Ray Charles' I Can't Stop Loving You in 1962 achieved the same feat on the same charts.
Houston's single sold approximately 400,000 copies in its second week on the summit, making it the best-selling song in a single week (taking the record from Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You"). It broke its own record in the following three weeks, peaking at 632,000 copies in the week ended December 27, 1992, Billboard the issue date of January 9, 1993 (the week it broke its own record for most copies sold in a single week for any song in the Nielsen SoundsScan era). The record was broken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight", selling 3.4 million in the final week of September 1997. "I Will Always Love You" was certified 4× Platinum in the U.S. for shipments of over 4 million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 12, 1993, making Houston the first female artist with a single to reach that level in the RIAA history. According to Nielsen SoundScan, as of 2009, the single sold 4,591,000 copies, and became the second best-selling physical single in U.S. alone, only behind Elton John's single in 1997.
Houston's single made a massive international success, peaking at number one of the singles charts in almost all countries, including the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, spent 13 weeks at the top. The single also hit pole position in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Houston's 10-week reign in the U.K. set the record for the longest run at the top by a solo female artist in the history of the British singles chart. It is the only single to have ever topped the U.S., the U.K. and Australian singles charts for at least ten weeks. In the United Kingdom, the single sold over 1,550,000 copies, becoming the tenth best-selling single of the 1990s, and was certified 2× Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on January 1, 1993. It was certified Platinum for shipments of over 500,000 copies by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) in Germany. 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, though the single did not top the record chart unlike most other countries.
Only a few hours after Houston's death on February 11, 2012, "I Will Always Love You" topped the U.S. iTunes Charts. Also, that same week after 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, while in the United Kingdom, the song charted at number 10 the week of Houston's death.