Hello Dolly, from Laurel

City man is singer’s number one fan
By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Laurel resident Wes Salveson is a Dolly Parton “superfan” who has been collecting memorabilia for more than 40 years. He is shown in one section of his home holding one of his prized possessions, an electric guitar autographed by Parton.
Wes Salveson’s Laurel home is completely filled with all things Dolly Parton. In the center of the photo is a promotional poster and plaque from Parton’s 2016 “Pure and Simple” tour which she presented to Salveson when he met her at the concert in Deadwood, S.D.

When people hear the word “superfan” they likely think of Star Trek or Star Wars fans, or Beatles and Elvis Presley fans in the music world. However, there is another musician who attracts a legion of enthusiastic admirers—Dolly Parton—and Laurel is home to one such fan.

Wes Salveson, manager of Ricci’s Express, has been an admirer of Parton’s music since he can remember and has been collecting memorabilia since he was a teenager.  Salveson has seen her perform several times and met her once. 

Parton is the most honored female country artist of all time and has 47 Grammy Award nominations (tied with Bruce Springsteen), winning the award nine times. She also has two Academy Award nominations and has sold in excess of 100 million albums across all mediums. 

Salveson first saw Parton on the Porter Wagner show in the 1970s on a black and white television. 

“She came out on a swing wearing her wig and I was enthralled with her and her voice. Now I’m 54 and I still feel the same,” he said.

His love of music came from his dad Wayne, an accomplished musician who has toured all over the U.S. and in Europe and Russia.

Salveson grew up in Billings but has lived in Laurel for the past 25 years. He said he didn’t have an easy childhood, but, “Dolly was a ray of light to me.” 

“Dolly is a great messenger,” he said, referring to that feeling a person gets when an artist makes them feel like they’re the only one in the room. “She spoke to my heart many times.”

The first time Salveson saw Parton was in Irvine, Calif. in the late 1980s while he was living in Phoenix. 

The second time was at the Sundome in Phoenix. Salveson said he tried to meet Parton but she was having issues with a stalker at the time and security was tight. He handed a security guard a note to pass along to her and three weeks later he received a hand written card from her that said:

“Dear Wes, 

Sorry I didn’t get your note until after we were already gone from the show. 

Best wishes and love always, 

Dolly Parton 1993.”

He has since framed it and it now hangs on the wall in his living room among hundreds of other collector items.

Salveson’s extensive collection includes movie posters, concert posters and photos, plates, figurines, cardboard cut outs, album covers and just about anything else an image of Parton could be put on. 

His most prized memorabilia includes an autographed guitar, a rare “Spirit of ‘76” poster and replica of her “Coat of Many Colors” from the movie of the same name. 

On July 23, 2016 Salveson experienced what he called “a highlight of my life” when he met Parton at a concert in Deadwood, S.D. 

He had written his name on a card and mentioned he had been a lifelong fan, then he was selected to meet Parton.

Salveson was admitted backstage and said he stood around awkwardly until she saw him and said, “What are you doing over there? Come give me a hug.”

He said what surprised him most was how petite she was (4’11”).

“She was bigger than life to me and yet she was this little thing.”

He showed her the tattoo he had of her autograph and signature butterfly. 

Parton’s security started to usher him away after a few photos but “Dolly said, “wait, we need a picture of the tattoo.’”

He also received an autographed plaque from her commemorating the “Pure and Simple” tour, in support of her 43rd studio album.

Before the rise of the internet and Facebook, Salveson was involved with Parton’s fan club through the mail. 

“I mostly promoted her new albums,” he said.

When he became active on Facebook it opened his eyes to the “world of Dolly.”

“Before, I felt like I was the only one, but it’s a huge community,” he said. “I met my people.”

Salveson admits some people think he is “crazy,” but he says his collection pales in comparison to others.

“There are guys in Tennessee who have pinball machines and her image in their swimming pools.”

He saw her in Dollywood this past May at “Dolly’s Homecoming Parade” and had the chance to meet other fans from around the world. 

Dollywood is Parton’s theme park which opened in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. in 1986 and is one of the more popular theme parks in the world, hosting 2.5 million visitors each year.

Salveson connected with friends he had met on Facebook and visited Parton’s childhood home with some of them.

“If Facebook never came about I probably wouldn’t have gone to Dollywood. I learned there are others like me and never met any other of the [#1] fans. She goes back to Sevier County, Tennesee to open Dollywood for the year [it’s closed during the winter months]. Everyone like me ends up there and gets together at a fan dinner.”

He said the Chasing Rainbows museum was “the most amazing thing.”

The Dollywood website says the museum is a venue for Parton to share the results of her decades of dreaming and to inspire others to follow their own dreams. It features interactive and behind-the-scenes collections, stories and memorabilia from Parton’s life and career. 

The future for Salveson is to continue to be a fan, but he wants to get involved in “Dolly’s Imagination Library” which gives free age-appropriate books to millions of pre-school aged children. To date, the library has given 80 million books to children in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. 

“I want to get it to Montana,” he said.

Salveson does have perspective about his love for all things Parton, and says “I know she is a person and she’s doing what God made her for.”

Now, 40 years later, Salveson’s dad is ready to accept that his son’s love for all things Dolly is not “just a phase.” 

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