Kenny Rogers was born on August 21, 1938, and enjoyed a career that was six decades-long, crossed genres and featured collaborations with a multitude of music greats. Amongst all the pandemonium and restlessness of the last few weeks, it remains important to recognise the life and career of Kenneth Donald Rogers, who died under hospice care at the age of 81 on March 20, 2020 in his house in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
Kenneth Rogers began his recording career with the Houston-based doo-wop band, The Scholars. He made his first of many genre jumps to the folk band the New Christy Minstrels; Rogers and several other group members left this folk band however to found the psychedelic rock band The First Edition who had the classic hit Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). Gradually their sound morphed into more of a country twang, which paved the way for Kenny Rogers’ solo career. The band broke up in 1976.
Kenny took it solo and hit his stride gearing up for some of the biggest moments of his career. His 1977 recording of Lucille was Rogers first major hit, making its way to the top of country charts and also pop charts proving his wide-reaching crossover appeal.
Most famously, Rogers became The Gambler in 1978 with the release of the Grammy Award-winning track and album. Rogers then developed the persona into a tv character, proved his deftness for acting, and was nominated for an Emmy in 1980 for his role in The Gambler TV movies. His 1980 collaboration with Lionel Ritchie, Lady, was the lead single for his hugely successful Greatest Hits that year.
His musical collaborations include a variety of country singers, such as the much-loved 1983 duet with Dolly Parton, Islands in the Stream, which was written and produced by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and topped charts in 1983.
Other famous duets consist of Sheena Easton on We’ve Got Tonight and Dottie West with All I Ever Need Is You and What Are We Doin In Love. Slowly Rogers’ string of hits cooled down and his focus moved onto the development of his own record label Dreamcatcher Entertainment which was launched in 1998.
In 2013 Rogers did his last duet with Dolly Parton, You Can’t Make Old Friends, in the same year Kenny was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of fame and received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association.
Kenny Rogers retired from music in 2015, with countless awards under his belt, a lucrative six-decade long career with several chart-toppers and a successful stint on television.