Country Music Legend Kenny Rogers Dead at 81
The Gambler just broke even.
Country music legend Kenny Rogers died Friday night at home at age 81, according to a statement issued on Twitter by his family.
“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81,” the statement said.
“Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”
The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81. Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. https://t.co/adxAgiMW2s pic.twitter.com/nggWiiotMT
— Kenny Rogers (@_KennyRogers) March 21, 2020
Rogers took his first step on the road to becoming an American musical legend in 1977 with the hit song “Lucille.”
He followed that up in 1978 with “The Gambler,” a song that became an integral part of his performing persona and which included lines that became part of the fabric of America: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em; Know when to fold ’em; Know when to walk away; And know when to run.”
The song about the encounter between a drifter and a gambler also included the poignant line: “The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”
The song later described the death of the gambler this way: “Somewhere in the darkness; The gambler he broke even.”
Rogers often collaborated with country icon Dolly Parton, making “Islands in the Stream” one of country music’s most famous duets.
Rogers recalled the making of the song in a 2017 interview with NBC’s “Today.”
“The story is the producer and the writer on the song was one of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb,” Rogers said.
“And we had been singing this song in my studio in L.A. for four days. And I finally said, ‘Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore.’ And he said, ‘We need Dolly Parton.”’
Parton was actually close by.
“I said, ‘Well, why not, you know?”’ Rogers said.
“And Ken Kragen, my manager said, ‘I saw her downstairs.’ I said, ‘Well, go get her.’ And Dolly, in her inimitable fashion, marched into the room and the song was never the same.”
Parton posted her reaction to the death of her collaborator and friend on Twitter:
So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 21, 2020
Many others also mourned the passing of Rogers:
I’m very sad to learn that @_KennyRogers has passed away. Kenny was a friend who helped me in so many ways early on. He was always funny, kind and full of advice. Kenny’s legacy of great music will live on forever. My deepest condolences to Wanda & family. #RIPKennyRogers pic.twitter.com/lZo6XI3yma
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) March 21, 2020
I feel like every time my dad drove me anywhere as a kid I heard The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I loved it. I had no idea what
the words meant but I didn’t know that I didn’t know what the words meant. That song is a part of stunning body of work. ?❤️ ? #RIPKennyRogers
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) March 21, 2020
“You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”— Kenny Rogers 1938-2020. pic.twitter.com/cWPsNiizTS
— Sean Mcdowell (@dvesean) March 21, 2020
“Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world,” publicist Keith Hagan said in a statement.
Rogers will have a small private funeral, but when limits on large gatherings are lifted, his family members “look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” Hagan’s statement said.
“I’ve been so lucky to have enjoyed such a long career and to have such amazing support from my fans and all who have helped me along the way, but there comes a time when I need to focus on spending time with my family,” Rogers said as he began his final tour,” according to his website.
“My life is about my wife and my 11-year-old twin boys right now. There are a lot of things I want to do together with them to create some special memories. I don’t have a bucket list of my own,” he added.
“I have a bucket list of things I want to do with them.”
Over the course of his career, Rogers had 24 No. 1 hits, won six Country Music Association awards and also netted three Grammys, according to Fox News.
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