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Kenny Rogers dies at 81

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Kenny Rogers dies at 81

Actor-singer Kenny Rogers, the graceful, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, people, nation and pop with such hits as “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in 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, Georgia, 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 tens of millions of data, received three Grammys and was the star of TV films primarily based 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 well-liked to be considered a rustic singer.

“You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison,” Rogers instructed The Associated Press in 2015. “And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.”

“Kenny was one of those artists who transcended beyond one format and geographic borders,” says Sarah Trahern, chief govt officer of the Country Music Association. “He was a global superstar who helped introduce country music to audiences all around the world.”

Rogers was a five-time CMA Award winner, in addition to the recipient of the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, the identical 12 months he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He obtained 10 awards from the Academy of Country Music. He offered greater than 47 million data within the United States alone, in accordance with the Recording Industry Association of America.

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 known 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 people group, in 1966. The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic track, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Rogers and First Edition combined country-rock and people 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 track penned by Don Schlitz, got here out in 1978 and have become his signature track with a signature chorus: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” The track 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 typically didn’t end songs till he had already pitched them, which was the case for “Lady.”

“In the beginning, the song was called, ‘Baby,’” Richie mentioned. “And because when I first sat with him, for the first 30 minutes, all he talked about was he just got married to a real lady. A country guy like him is married to a lady. So, he said, ‘By the way, what’s the name of the song?’” Richie replies: “Lady.”

Over the years, Rogers labored typically 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 in the Stream.”

“Barry was producing an album on me and he gave me this song,” Rogers instructed the AP in 2017. “And I went and learned it and went into the studio and sang it for four days. And I finally looked at him and said, ‘Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore.’ And he said, ‘You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.’ I thought, ‘Man, that guy is a visionary.’”

Coincidentally, Parton was really in the identical recording studio in Los Angeles when the thought got here up.

“From the moment she marched into that room, that song never sounded the same,” Rogers mentioned. “It took on a whole new spirit.”

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 in the Stream” with Rogers throughout his all-star retirement live performance held in Nashville in October 2017.

Rogers invested his money and time in loads of different endeavors over his profession, together with a ardour for images that led to a number of books, in addition to an autobiography, “Making It With Music.” He had a series of eating places known as Kenny Rogers Roasters and was a accomplice 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 potential to chart hits had waned, though he nonetheless remained a preferred reside entertainer with common touring. Still he was an creative businessman and by no means stopped looking for his approach again onto the charts.

At the age of 61, Rogers had a short comeback on the nation charts in 2000 with successful track “Buy Me A Rose,” because of his different favourite medium, tv. Producers of the collection “Touched By An Angel” wished him to look in an episode, and certainly one of his managers urged the episode be primarily based on his newest single. That cross-promotional occasion earned him his first No. 1 nation track 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 national COVID-19 emergency,” a press release posted early Saturday learn. A public memorial might be held at a later date.


Associated Press journalist Mallika Sen contributed from Los Angeles.

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