Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer staff writer 

You picked a fine time to leave us, Kenny Rogers. Dead of Natural causes at 81

Rogers charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks

 

March 25, 2020



"You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille," perhaps Roger's greatest hit.

I met him once in a bar in Santa Barbara in 1983. I was barely old enough to get into the bar. I walked up to him and said "Kenny Rogers?" Yes he said thank you for all the music all these years I said and shook his hand.

Kenneth Ray Rogers, 81, was an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur. He was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

On March 20, 2020, Rogers died under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a representative for the singer said in a statement. Due to the national COVID-19 emergency, the family is planning a small private service at this time with a public memorial planned for a later date

At a former estate in Colbert, Georgia, Rogers kept a pet goat named Smitty, having originally acquired the animal from a friend in 2008. According to Rogers, the goat was "(his) center", providing a calming influence after long and stressful touring schedules.

Kenny Rogers was married five times (with each marriage lasting longer than the previous one) and had five children. He married Janice Gordon on May 15, 1958; they divorced in April 1960 with one child.[42] Rogers married Jean Rogers in October 1960 and divorced her in 1963. He married Margo Anderson in October 1964 and divorced her in 1976 with one child.[43] Rogers married Marianne Gordon on October 1, 1977, and divorced her in 1993 with one child.[43] Rogers married for the fifth and final time when he married Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. The couple had twin sons together.

Though he was most successful with country audiences, Rogers charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone, and sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

late 1950s, he started his recording career with jazz-singer Bobby Doyle, and joined the folk ensemble the New Christy Minstrels in 1961, playing double bass and bass guitar as well as singing.

In 1967, he and several members of the New Christy Minstrels left to found the group the First Edition, with whom he scored his first major hit, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)", a psychedelic rock song which peaked at number five on the Billboard charts. As Rogers took an increased leadership role in the First Edition, and following the success of 1969's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", the band gradually changed styles to a more country feel.

The band broke up in 1975–1976, and Kenny Rogers embarked on a long and successful solo career, which included several successful collaborations, including duets with singers Dolly Parton and Sheena Easton, and a songwriting partnership with Lionel Richie. His signature song, 1978's "The Gambler", was a cross-over hit that won him a Grammy Award in 1980 and was selected in 2018 for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. He would develop the Gambler persona into a character for a successful series of television films starting with 1980's Emmy-nominated Kenny Rogers as The Gambler.

Two of his albums, The Gambler and Kenny, were featured in the About.com poll of "The 200 Most Influential Country Albums Ever".

He was voted the "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a 1986 joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People. He has received numerous awards such as the AMAs, Grammys, ACMs and CMAs, as well as a lifetime achievement award for a career spanning six decades in 2003.

A duet with Dolly Parton

Later success included the 2006 album release, Water & Bridges, an across the board hit, that hit the Top 5 in the Billboard Country Albums sales charts, also charting in the Top 15 of the Billboard 200. The first single from the album, "I Can't Unlove You", was also a sizable chart hit. Remaining a popular entertainer around the world, he continued to tour regularly until his retirement in 2017.

He acted in a variety of movies and television shows, most notably the title roles in Kenny Rogers as The Gambler and the MacShayne series for The NBC Mystery Movie, and the 1982 feature film Six Pack. He was a co-founder of the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters in collaboration with former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown Jr.. Although the stores closed in the United States, they are still a fixture in Asia.

 

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