Headbangin’ With Dolly

When Dolly Parton had her biggest tour in a quarter of a century last year, she did it with a road crew unique to country music: pretty much everyone on it is a veteran of heavy metal.

Dolly Parton And Crew – Dolly Parton and her heavy-metal crew celebrate the wrap of the 2016 tour.

Although many have backgrounds that include acts like Madonna, Lady Gaga, and The Cure, the common ground is acts like Marilyn Manson, Mötley Crüe, Slipknot, and Megadeth. It’s been this way for at least a decade.

Parton manager Danny Nozell (center) told Pollstar it goes back to when he cut his teeth as tour manager for Slipknot and others at

“I just kept my contacts as I was rolling through my career,” Nozell said. “When I wound up managing Dolly Parton, I brought along the metal team – the lighting, the sound, the production manager. I have the production manager (Gary Garner) for Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. Dolly said I went from darkness to light.”

Whenever Parton isn’t touring, the gang heads back to heavy metal bands. Just a few pictured are production assistant Helen “Hels Bells” Smith (Slayer, The Prodigy, Faithless), audio engineer Nick Stover (Metallica), lead guitar tech Kurt Schneck (Linkin Park, Godsmack, Guns N’ Roses, Danzig), and LD Garrett Rentz (Mötley Crüe,

The star of the photo would be FOH engineer Paul Scodova.

“They’re all A-list people,” Nozell said. “Dolly absolutely loves them. They can say it was one of the best tours they’ve ever done. She treats all of them with love, respect and kindness; It’s a completely different atmosphere than the metal bands. They say it’s the most enjoyable, non-stressful job they’ve done in their lives. Plus, you’re not dealing with a band. She loves flirting with all the crew.”

Rentz told Pollstar that there really isn’t much of a difference between a heavy metal crew and a traditional country music touring crew, unless the tour is worldwide.

“You definitely learn to adapt situations where people don’t understand you that well or lots of different equipment involved,” he said. “For me it’s just etiquette with the artist, basically aiming to please.

“It can be more stressful because it’s her and she will be in tune with what’s going on,” he added. “She probably pays more attention to it than a metal band that’s been drinking all day and are going to be mad at you anyway, about anything.”

The crew was called upon in December to create Parton’s “Smoky Mountains Rise” telethon for Tennessee wildfire victims, which raised $12 million for displaced families.

“What would normally take 40 days, Garrett did in eight,” Nozell said. “Dolly wanted it done and this metal crew went to bat for her. This meant more to Dolly than anything because Garrett worked round the clock to get the stage set up, the lighting, the production. … If it wasn’t for the metal crew it would have never gone down.”