In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded a cover of Dolly Parton’s 1974 single, “I Will Always Love You.” Houston’s version appeared on the soundtrack of the 1992 blockbuster, The Bodyguard. Fast forward 30 years later and the dynamic, one-of-a-kind rendition is now certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as of Wednesday (Jan. 12). This is the late singer’s fourth diamond certification.
Not only was The Bodyguard Houston’s acting debut, but its accompanying soundtrack became the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time with “I Will Always Love You” becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. For 14 consecutive weeks, it topped the Billboard Hot 100; at the time, holding the record for longest No. 1. The soundtrack as a whole garnered its Diamond certification on Nov. 3, 1993.
“We were on a mission searching for songs for ‘The Bodyguard.’ What would be the song? Thee song that’s going to make this movie tie together,” she recalled in a 2000 interview.
Originally, she was set to record a cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s ”What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” Surprisingly, it was Kevin Costner—Houston’s co-lead and love interest in the romantic thriller—who suggested, “I Will Always Love You.” They had listened to Parton’s version early on and bypassed it, dismissing the track as just another country song. However, Costner later presented it to Houston again, insisting this was the perfect song and it finally clicked as she listened back to the Linda Ronstadt version.
Composer Dave Foster was brought in to rearrange the country track as an R&B ballad. Parton recalls hearing the song for the first time on the radio with Houston’s iconic acapella opener. “It was the most overwhelming feeling that that little song of mine could be done so beautifully, so big, so overwhelming that I really almost just had a heart attack right there on the spot,” shared the country legend in a 2016 SiriusXM interview.
The acapella intro—another genius idea from Costner—was almost dismissed by both Foster and Clive Davis. Foster shared in an oral history of the single, “I was like, ‘Kevin, you’re a great actor, but that is not a good idea.’ But I relented. So Whitney’s standing in the ballroom of the hotel, and we’re rolling, and she goes, ‘If I…’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I was standing beside Whitney’s mother [Cissy], and she turned to me and said, ‘You’re witnessing greatness right now.'”
“I Will Always Love You” remains a staple in the New Jersey songbird’s discography. Watch the official music video below.