Actor-singer Kenny Rogers, the graceful, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, folks, nation and pop with such hits as Lucille, Lady and Islands within the Stream and embraced his persona as “The Gambler” on file and on TV died Friday night time. He was 81.
He died at dwelling in Sandy Springs, Ga., consultant Keith Hagan instructed The Associated Press. He was underneath hospice care and died of pure causes, Hagan mentioned.
The Houston-born performer with the husky voice and silver beard offered tens of thousands and thousands of information, gained three Grammys and was the star of TV films based mostly on “The Gambler” and different songs, making him a famous person within the `70s and ’80s. Rogers thrived for some 60 years earlier than retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, he all the time most popular to be regarded as a rustic singer.
“You both do what everybody else is doing and also you do it higher, otherwise you do what nobody else is doing and you do not invite comparability,” Rogers instructed The Associated Press in 2015. “And I selected that manner as a result of I may by no means be higher than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I discovered one thing that I may do that did not invite comparability to them. And I feel individuals thought it was my want to alter nation music. But that was by no means my difficulty.”
“Kenny was a kind of artists who transcended past one format and geographic borders,” says Sarah Trahern, chief govt officer of the Country Music Association. “He was a worldwide famous person who helped introduce nation music to audiences all world wide.”
Rogers was a five-time CMA Award winner and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
A real rags-to-riches story, Rogers was raised in public housing in Houston Heights with seven siblings. As a 20-year-old, he had a gold single referred to as That Crazy Feeling, underneath the identify Kenneth Rogers, however when that early success stalled, he joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass participant.
But his breakthrough got here when he was requested to affix the New Christy Minstrels, a folks group, in 1966. The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic tune, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). Rogers and First Edition blended country-rock and folks on songs like Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, a narrative of a Vietnam veteran begging his girlfriend to remain.
After the group broke up in 1974, Rogers began his solo profession and located a giant hit with the unhappy nation ballad Lucille, in 1977, which crossed over to the pop charts and earned Rogers his first Grammy. Suddenly the star, Rogers added hit after hit for greater than a decade.
The Gambler, the Grammy-winning story tune penned by Don Schlitz, got here out in 1978 and have become his signature tune with a signature chorus: “You gotta know when to carry `em, know when to fold ’em.” The tune spawned successful TV film of the identical identify and a number of other extra sequels that includes Rogers as skilled gambler Brady Hawkes, and led to a prolonged aspect profession for Rogers as a TV actor and host of a number of TV specials.
Other hits included You Decorated My Life, Every Time Two Fools Collide with Dottie West, Don’t Fall In Love with a Dreamer with Kim Carnes, and Coward of the County. One of his largest successes was Lady, written by Lionel Richie, a chart topper for six weeks straight in 1980. Richie mentioned in a 2017 interview with the AP that he usually did not end songs till he had already pitched them, which was the case for “Lady.”
“In the start, the tune was referred to as, Baby,” Richie mentioned. “And as a result of once I first sat with him, for the primary 30 minutes, all he talked about was he simply acquired married to an actual girl. A rustic man like him is married to a woman. So, he mentioned, `By the best way, what is the identify of the tune?”‘ Richie replies: “Lady.”
Over the years, Rogers labored usually with feminine duet companions, most memorably, Dolly Parton. The two had been paired at the suggestion of the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, who wrote Islands within the Stream.
“Barry was producing an album on me and he gave me this tune,” Rogers instructed the AP in 2017. “And I went and discovered it and went into the studio and sang it for 4 days. And I lastly seemed at him and mentioned, `Barry, I do not even like this tune anymore.’ And he mentioned, `You know what we want? We want Dolly Parton.’ I assumed, `Man, that man is a visionary.”‘
Coincidentally, Parton was really in the identical recording studio in Los Angeles when the thought got here up.
“From the second she marched into that room, that tune by no means sounded the identical,” Rogers mentioned. “It took on an entire new spirit.”
Toured with Dolly Parton
The two singers toured collectively, together with in Australia and New Zealand in 1984 and 1987, and had been featured in a HBO live performance particular. Over the years the 2 would proceed to file collectively, together with their final duet, “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” which was launched in 2013. Parton reprised “Islands within the Stream” with Rogers throughout his all-star retirement live performance held in Nashville in October 2017.
Rogers invested his money and time in plenty of different endeavours over his profession, together with a ardour for pictures that led to a number of books, in addition to an autobiography, “Making It With Music.” He had a series of eating places referred to as “Kenny Rogers Roasters,” and was a companion behind a riverboat in Branson, Missouri. He was additionally concerned in quite a few charitable causes, amongst them the Red Cross and MusiCares, and was a part of the all-star “We are the World” recording for famine aid.
By the ’90s, his capability to chart hits had waned, though he nonetheless remained a well-liked reside entertainer with common touring. Still he was an ingenious businessman and by no means stopped looking for his manner again onto the charts.
At the age of 61, Rogers had a short comeback on the nation charts in 2000 with successful tune Buy Me A Rose, due to his different favorite medium, tv. Producers of the sequence Touched By An Angel needed him to look in an episode, and considered one of his managers advised the episode be based mostly on his newest single. That cross-promotional occasion earned him his first No. 1 nation tune in 13 years.
Rogers is survived by his spouse, Wanda, and his sons Justin, Jordan, Chris and Kenny Jr., in addition to two brothers, a sister and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, his consultant mentioned. The household is planning a personal service “out of concern for the nationwide COVID-19 emergency,” an announcement posted early Saturday learn. A public memorial will probably be held at a later date.