Kenny Rogers facts for kids
Rogers in January 1997
|Birth name||Kenneth Ray Rogers|
August 21, 1938|
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Died||March 20, 2020
Colbert, Georgia, U.S.
Kenneth Ray Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020) was an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur. He was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 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.
In the 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. 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.
Early life and Career
Rogers was born the fourth of eight children in Houston, Texas. His parents were Lucille Lois (née Hester; 1910–1991), a nurse's assistant, and Edward Floyd Rogers (1904–1975), a carpenter. Rogers is of Irish and Native American ancestry. Rogers attended Wharton Elementary School.
In a recording career dating back to the 1950s, Rogers moved from teenage rock'n'roll through psychedelic rock to become a country-pop crossover artist of the 1970s and 1980s. He had a minor solo hit in 1957 called "That Crazy Feeling". After sales slowed down, Rogers joined a jazz group called The Bobby Doyle Three, who got a lot of work in clubs thanks to a reasonable fan following.
The group recorded for Columbia Records. They disbanded in 1965, and a 1966 jazzy rock single Rogers recorded for Mercury Records, called "Here's That Rainy Day", failed. Rogers also worked as a producer, writer and session musician for other performers, including country artists Mickey Gilley and Eddy Arnold. In 1966 he joined the New Christy Minstrels as a singer and double bass player.
In 1976 Rogers signed a solo deal with United Artists. Producer Larry Butler and Rogers began a partnership that would last four years.Rogers first outing for his new label was Love Lifted Me. The album charted and two singles, "Love Lifted Me" and "While the Feeling's Good", were minor hits. The song "Runaway Girl" was featured in the motion picture Trackdown.
Later in 1976, Rogers issued his second album, the self-titled Kenny Rogers, whose first single, "Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got)", was another solo hit.
The single "Lucille" (1977) was a major hit, reaching number one on the pop charts in 12 countries, selling over five million copies, and firmly establishing Rogers' post-First Edition career. On the strength of "Lucille", the album Kenny Rogers reached No.1 in the Billboard Country Album Chart. More success was to follow, including the multi-platinum selling album The Gambler and another international Number 1 single, "Coward of the County", taken from the equally successful album, Kenny.
In 2015, Rogers announced his farewell tour, titled The Gambler's Last Deal. In announcing the tour, Rogers indicated at the time that his final tour appearance would be on NBC's Today show. Concert dates were scheduled through 2018 and included visits to the United States, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, England, The Netherlands and Switzerland. On April 5, 2018, it was announced that Rogers canceled his remaining tour as advised by doctors due to a series of health challenges.
Rogers' final concert in Nashville took place on October 25, 2017 at the Bridgestone Arena where he was joined by an array of guest artists including Linda Davis, Elle King, Little Big Town, Lionel Richie, Billy Currington, Lee Greenwood, The Flaming Lips, The Oak Ridge Boys, Justin Moore, Travis Tritt, The Judds, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum, Idina Menzel, Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire and Jamey Johnson.
The concert also included a special appearance by long-time friend Dolly Parton, who performed "You Can't Make Old Friends" and "Islands in the Stream" with Rogers for the final time. His most successful final show was in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center to a sold out audience.
Acting and other ventures
Rogers also had success as an actor. His 1982 movie Six Pack, in which he played a race-car driver, took more than $20 million at the United States box office, while made-for-TV movies such as The Gambler series, Christmas in America, and Coward of the County (based on hit songs of his) topped ratings lists. He also served as host & narrator for the A&E historical series The Real West.
As an entrepreneur, he collaborated with former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown Jr. in 1991 to start up the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters. The chicken and ribs chain, which is similar to Boston Market, was famously featured in an episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld called "The Chicken Roaster". Season four of the TV series Fresh Off the Boat depicts the chain as owning a share of Louis Huang's Cattleman's Ranch restaurant and then filing for bankruptcy.
Rogers put his name to the Gambler Chassis Co., a Sprint car racing manufacture. The company used the name from Rogers' hit song The Gambler. During the 1980s and 1990s, Gambler was one of the fastest and widely used Sprintcars, Gambler sprintcars were also successful in Australia.
Rogers appeared in a 2004 episode of Reno 911! as himself being subjected to incompetent security provided by starstruck sheriff's deputies to comical effect.
In October 2012, Rogers released a book Luck or Something Like it: A Memoir about his ups and downs in his musical career. With Mike Blakely, he has written a novel, What Are the Chances, that was released September 1, 2013.
In 2014, Rogers appeared as himself in a GEICO commercial, singing part of his song "The Gambler" a cappella while acting as the dealer in a card game.
Personal life and death
At his 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. 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. Rogers married Marianne Gordon on October 1, 1977, and divorced her in 1993 with one child. Rogers married for the fifth and final time when he married Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. The couple had twin sons together.
On March 20, 2020, Rogers died at his home from natural causes, 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.
Awards and honors
|2017||Texas Country Music Hall of Fame||Inductee|
|2013||Country Music Association Awards||Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award|
|2013||Country Music Hall of Fame||Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame|
|2010||American Eagle Award||American Eagle Award|
|2009||ACM Honors||Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award (w/ Jerry Reed, Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr.)|
|2007||ASCAP Golden Note Award||ASCAP Golden Note Award|
|2007||CMT Music Awards||Album of the Year — Water & Bridges|
|2005||CMT Music Awards||Favorite All Time Country Duet — "Islands In the Stream" (w/ Dolly Parton)|
|2004||CMT's 100 Greatest Cheating Songs||"Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town" — No. 6|
|2003||International Entertainment Buyers Association||Lifetime Achievement Award|
|2003||CMT's 100 Greatest Country Songs||"The Gambler" — No. 26|
|2002||CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music||Ranking — No. 19|
|2000||TNN Music Awards||Career Achievement Award|
|1999||BBC's Greatest Country Singer||Ranking — No. 2|
|1988||Grammy Awards||Best Duo Country Vocal Performance — "Make No Mistake She's Mine" (w/ Ronnie Milsap)|
|1986||USA Today||Favorite Singer of All Time|
|1985||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Album — Eyes That See In the Dark|
|1985||American Music Awards||Favorite Male Country Artist|
|1983||Academy of Country Music Awards||Single of the Year — "Islands In the Stream" (w/ Dolly Parton)|
|1983||Academy of Country Music Awards||Top Vocal Duet — (w/ Dolly Parton)|
|1983||American Music Awards||Favorite Pop/Rock Country Artist|
|1983||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Single — "Love Will Turn You Around"|
|1983||ASAP Awards||Favorite Single — "Islands In the Stream" (w/ Dolly Parton)|
|1982||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Album — Greatest Hits|
|1981||American Music Awards||Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist|
|1981||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Album — The Gambler|
|1981||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Single — "Coward of the County"|
|1980||American Music Awards||Favorite Male Country Artist|
|1980||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Album — The Gambler|
|1980||Music City News Country||Single of the Year|
|1979||American Music Awards||Favorite Male Country Artist|
|1979||American Music Awards||Favorite Country Album — 10 Years of Gold|
|1979||Country Music Association Awards||Male Vocalist of the Year|
|1979||Country Music Association Awards||Vocal Duo of the Year — (w/ Dottie West)|
|1979||Country Music Association Awards||Album of the Year — The Gambler|
|1979||Music City News Country||Male Artist of the Year|
|1979||Music City News Country||Single of the Year — "The Gambler"|
|1979||Grammy Awards||Best Male Country Vocal Performance — "The Gambler"|
|1978||American Music Awards||Favorite Single — "Lucille"|
|1978||Country Music Association Awards||Vocal Duo of the Year — (w/ Dottie West)|
|1978||Academy of Country Music Awards||Entertainer of the Year|
|1978||Academy of Country Music Awards||Top Male Vocalist|
|1977||Country Music Association Awards||Single of the Year — "Lucille"|
|1977||Academy of Country Music Awards||Top Male Vocalist|
|1977||Academy of Country Music Awards||Single of the Year — "Lucille"|
|1977||Academy of Country Music Awards||Song of the Year — "Lucille"|
|1977||Grammy Awards||Best Male Country Vocal Performance — "Lucille"|
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