In 1977, TIME sent correspondent Jean Vallely out on the road with Dolly Parton, as the country star—who turns 70 on Tuesday—made her way around the nation. Parton had swapped out her Travelin’ Family Band for the more rock-friendly Gypsy Fever Band, and was aiming for crossover stardom. She traveled in a bus with two bathrooms and 11 berths, plus a closet for 20 costumes and four wigs. But, as the dispatch made clear, she hadn’t left her country roots behind.
As Parton said back then, “I don’t want to leave the country. I want to take the country with me.”
Here’s what Vallely had to say about one concert in Battle Creek, Mich.:
Reflecting on her career, Parton remarked that, “When I sit back in my rocker, I want to have done it all.” Nearly four decades later, she’s still at it–and that rocking chair remains empty.
Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: On the Rock Road With Dolly Parton