On November 28, 1992, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and stayed in the top spot for a record 14 weeks. In 1993, Houston became the first female artist to rank No. 1 for the year on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B charts. At the 1994 Grammy Awards, the song won the Record of the Year and Houston won Best Pop Vocal Female Performance.
Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973 about the breakup with her longtime mentor and music partner, the song won over a whole new generation of fans with Houston’s recording for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack. Prominently featured in the film, which was also Houston’s acting debut, “I Will Always Love You” became one of the best-selling singles of all time and the longest running No. 1 song from a movie soundtrack. Thanks to this iconic song and hit songs from the blockbuster film like “I’m Every Woman,” “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You,” “The Bodyguard” in 2012 soundtrack became the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time.
When “The Bodyguard” was released in movie theaters on November 25, 1992, Houston, already a popular singer, won an even greater following. She received critical and popular acclaim for her role as Rachel Marron, the superstar with a scary stalker, opposite the swoon-worthy private security guard, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner). The song appears at the tearjerker conclusion, but that wasn’t the initial plan. Originally, the big finale song was slated to be a Houston cover of the Jimmy Ruffin classic, “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted.” However, when Costner discovered that the Ruffin song was already scheduled to be featured in “Fried Green Tomatoes,” he suggested replacing it with Parton’s song. He played Linda Ronstadt’s 1975 cover of “I Will Always Love You” to convince Houston and the other producers to record it for the final sequence.
The song took on a new meaning when it topped the U.S. iTunes charts only a few hours after Houston’s death on February 11, 2012. Twenty years after its original debut, the song reappeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 7 and peaked at No. 3. To this day, Houston’s gospel-infused version pulls at our heartstrings, reminding us why we will always love her iconic voice and performance in “The Bodyguard.”