The passage of the great American country music star and singer, Kenneth Donald Rogers, has elicited eulogies from his fans across the world. While he lived, Kenny Rogers literally ruled the music world with his soulful songs. The iconic musician was loved beyond his native country, United States. Without doubt, the legendary composer will be missed by his fans and music enthusiasts.
Rogers, who died on March 20, in his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, was born on August 21, 1938. He was aged 81. In a career that spanned six decades, he signed off in a blaze of glory, creating remarkable impacts in many fields outside music. He was a singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur.
What counted for him mostly was the sleepy, serenading tone of his music. Rogers approached music with passion and commitment and made indelible marks in the field. He was popular among country music audiences but also charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, and topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone. He sold over 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
His fame and career spanned multiple genres: jazz, folk, pop, rock, and country. He was one of the most successful cross-over artistes of all time. He defined his mission in the industry early enough, commencing his recording career in 1950s with the Houston-based group the Scholars, who first released “The Poor Little Doggie.” After some solo releases, including 1958’s “That Crazy Feeling,” Rogers then joined a group with the jazz singer, Bobby Doyle. These were the initial efforts that launched him into global acclaim subsequently.
His signature song, “The Gambler,” released in 1978, 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. The single “Lucille,” released earlier in 1977, was a major hit, reaching number one on the pop charts in 12 countries, selling over five million copies. In 1980, a selection he recorded as a duet with Kim Carnes, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer,” became a major hit.
His participation in the song “We Are the World,” with other celebrated musicians like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon and Tina Turner, among others, depicted him among musicians, actors and actresses that looked beyond monetary gains in their career. The proceeds of the concert, held under the theme, United Support of Artistes for Africa (USA), were channeled towards assisting African countries ravaged by famine, drought and other natural disasters. Aside music, Rogers had acting roles in movies and television shows. He worked as a producer, writer and session musician for other performers.
For his successful outings, he 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. On August 26, 2008, Rogers released “50 Years,” an album that marked his 50 years in music business. The album included some of his greatest hits, plus three new songs. In 2015, Rogers announced his farewell tour, titled The Gambler’s Last Deal, indicating his intention to retire from touring after its completion.
Concert dates scheduled through 2018 included visits to the United States, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, England, The Netherlands and Switzerland. However, on April 5, 2018, it was announced that he had canceled his remaining tour as advised by doctors due to health challenges. Not much was heard of his public outings, subsequently, till his death on March 20.
Rogers was born the fourth of eight children. His parents were Lucille Lois (née Hester), and Edward Floyd Rogers. He attended Wharton Elementary School, George Washington Junior High School, and graduated from Jefferson Davis High School (now Northside High School) in 1956. He later attended the University of Houston. He also authored photo books: Kenny Rogers’ America (1986) and Your Friends and Mine (1987). He was married five times and had five children.
We join millions of his fans and admirers to mourn him. May God grant his soul eternal repose.