Kenny Rogers Dead at Age 81
Legendary pop and country singer Kenny Rogers died on Saturday at age 81.
Kenny Rogers, the smooth, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream” and embraced his persona as “The Gambler” on records and on TV, died Friday night. He was 81.
He died at home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, representative Keith Hagan told The Associated Press. He was under hospice care and died of natural causes, Hagan said.
The Houston-born performer with the husky voice and silver beard sold tens of millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on “The Gambler” and other songs, making him a superstar in the ’70s and ’80s. Rogers thrived for some 60 years before retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.
Read the rest of his obituary at the Associated Press
Watch Kenny Rogers Mentor and Perform on American Idol Season 5
The legendary crooner had a career that spanned 6 decades and included hit records on both the pop and country charts, and dozens of television appearances. One TV stint back in 2006 found Rogers mentoring the American Idol Top 9 during country week.
Host Ryan Seacrest ran a clip that highlighted the singer’s career, before he joined Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler and more for a chat. Afterward, the group joined Rogers for a rousing rendition of “The Gambler,” one of the singer’s most enduring hits.
“There’s such an honesty to this music,” he shared with the group, “that once you hear it, and once you get what’s good about it, it’s hard to walk away from it. He added, “The ultimate country song…has a story. It paints a picture of where you are and drops you off at the end of the journey with an emotion of some sort.”
The following night on the results show, Rogers lectured Simon Cowell on the joys of country music. “I like your songs,” Simon admits. He also praised the remaining nine contestants after mentoring each one’s performance. “This is the night that breaks my heart,” he says. Promoting a new album, Waters and Bridges, Rogers sang the debut single, “I Can’t Unlove You.” After the performance, the singers joined him on stage for handshakes and hugs.
Taylor Hicks, who won the crown that season, paid tribute on Twitter
Kenny was one of those legendary Smokey tenors. I was fortunate to have him be a mentor on Idol. He had such wise words for another aspiring whiskey tenor. Thanks for “Believing in me.” My condolences to his family, Ken Jr & the Butlers for helping him create such great music. pic.twitter.com/ZBy6QNrHBX
— Taylor Hicks (@TaylorHicks) March 21, 2020
American Idol Judge Lionel Richie Wrote One of Kenny Rogers’ Biggest Hits
American Idol judge, Lionel Richie, wrote one of Rogers big hits “Lady.” He also recorded the song himself. The two performed the song together for CMT Crossroads. Here’s the story behind the song:
— Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) March 22, 2020
“Today I lost one of my closest friends,” writes Lionel, “So much laughter so many adventures to remember, my heart is broken… My prayers go out to Kenny’s Family.”
Today I lost one of my closest friends ?So much laughter so many adventures to remember, my heart is broken… My prayers go out to Kenny’s Family.? pic.twitter.com/2lbwFffeYq
— Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) March 21, 2020
And from country superstar, and American Idol season 4 winner Carrie Underwood:
Country music has lost one of its pillars…sing with the angels and talk to God, Kenny. Bless you for being a part of so many lives… pic.twitter.com/QSUGLnVutD
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) March 21, 2020
American Idol mentor Bobby Bones shares meeting Rogers for the first time in a video.
RIP Kenny . This was many years ago . The first time we met. On the radio show. For years after that, we maintained a friendly relationship off the air too. https://t.co/Pe7R11Vt9v
— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) March 21, 2020