One of the greatest entertainment stars of our time with an immensely successful career in country music and pop charts with hits like ‘Lucille’ and ‘The Gambler.’
The iconic musician, Kenneth Donald Rogers was an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur who had an illustrious career spanning 60 years. He was one of the most successful cross-over artists of all time, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Grammy Award winner with the husky voice and silver beard sold tens of millions of records. He 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. He charted more than 120 hit singles across multiple genres: jazz, folk, pop, rock, and country. He also topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone.
The music legend wore many hats. Rogers was also a photographer, record producer, actor, author and entrepreneur. He also founded the restaurant chain, ‘Kenny Rogers Roasters’ and appeared in the movie, ‘Six Pack’, and TV movies, ‘The Gambler’, ‘Christmas in America’ and ‘Coward of the County’. He authored the photo books – ‘Kenny Rogers’ America’ and ‘Your Friends and Mine’ as well as the autobiographical book, ‘Luck or Something Like it: A Memoir’.
On March 19, 2020, Kenneth Rogers, aged 81, passed away of natural cause at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, under the care of hospice with his family beside him. He left an indelible mark on the history of American music, and his songs have endeared music lovers.
Name:   Kenneth  Rogers Born:   21 August 1938 Star Sign: Leo Died:   20 March 2020 Birthplace: Houston Country: Texas (TX) United States
DetailsOther Names Ray, Donald, Father: Edward Floyd Rogers Mother: Lucille Lois (née Hester) Rogers Marriages: Married: Wanda Miller in 1997 until his death; Marianne Gordon in 1977–1993; Margo Anderson in 1964–1976; Jean Massey in 1960–1963; Janice Gordon (m. 1958–1960). Children: Christopher Cody, Jordan Edward, Justin Charles,, Carole,Kenny Rogers Jr.
Early Years Kenneth (Kenny) Donald Rogers was born on August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas. The fourth of eight children, Kenneth Ray as his family called him had a tough childhood in depression-era Texas. He grew up in a poor area of Houston where his father, Edward Floyd Rogers was a carpenter and his mother, Lucille Lois (née Hester was a nurse assistant. He was of Irish and Native American ancestry.Kenny attended Wharton Elementary School, George Washington Junior High School. In 1949, Rogers won a talent show at the Texan Theatre. He also served as a busboy at the Rice Hotel and swept floors at a hat store for $9 a week. In 1956, Kenny graduated from Jefferson Davis High School (now Northside High School) and later attended the University of Houston. By high school, Rogers knew that he wanted to pursue a music career.
Jazz Bands Rogers started his music career in the 1950s, performing both jazz and psychedelic rock with ‘The Scholars’ band. The band came to prominence after they released the single, ‘Poor Little Doggie’. In 1958, he came out with a minor solo titled, ‘That Crazy Feeling’. He later became a part of the jazz group, 'The Bobby Doyle Trio', which earned a reasonable number of fans and also worked for Columbia Records. In May 1958, Kenny aged 19 exchanged vows with his first wife, Janice Gordon.
Musical Groups In 1965, 'The Bobby Doyle Trio' broke up. The following year, Rogers recorded the jazzy rock single, ‘Here's That Rainy Day’. Although the single was not successful, Rogers continued to work as a writer, session musician and producer with other artists. In 1966, he joined an American folk music group, 'the New Christy Minstrels,' and was a singer and double base player for them.In 1967, Rogers formed the group called, ‘The First Edition’, along with fellow Minstrel members, Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Camacho. The group was later renamed - ‘Kenny Rogers and The First Edition’. They released an array of hits, that topped the pop and country charts.
Music Genres Rogers moved from teenage rock and roll through psychedelic rock to become a country-pop crossover artist of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, he left ‘The First Edition’, after being with them for a period of ten years, to start his solo career. In 1977, Rogers released his self-titled album, ‘Kenny Rogers’, which was his first major solo success. The album included the hit single, ‘Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got)' and the sad country ballad “Lucille,” which crossed over to the pop charts and earned Rogers his first Grammy.In July 1977, Rogers released his third solo album, ‘Daytime Friends’, which was a successful album. The album featured the tracks, ‘Daytime Friend’, ‘Desperado’ and ‘Rock and Roll Man’. In 1978, Rogers released his fifth solo album, ‘Love or Something Like It’, also a hit album. He also released the collaboration album, ‘Every Time Two Fools Collide’. By the late 1970's, Rogers had sold over $100 million worth of records.
Successful Albums In November 1978, Kenny Rogers sixth studio album, ‘The Gambler’ was released. The album’s title track earned him a Grammy Award and topped the charts. Released in 1979, his seventh studio album, ‘Kenny’, was a successful, chart topping album. The album included the singles, ‘Coward of the County’ and ‘You Decorated My Life’. In 1980, Rogers released his eighth studio album, ‘Gideon’, which topped the country charts and the pop charts. The album also featured the international hit, ‘Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer’, a duet with Kim Carnes. In 1980, he recorded the hit song, ‘Lady’, written by Lionel Richie. The following year, he came out with his first holiday album, ‘Christmas’ and the compilation album, ‘Greatest Hits’.
Albums and 'Islands in the Stream' In 1981, Kenny Rogers came out with his ninth studio album, ‘Share Your Love’. It was one of his bestselling albums. His subsequent albums include, 'Love Will Turn You Around’ and ‘We've Got Tonight’. Released in 1983, was the No.1 on the US singles chart - 'Islands in the Stream' from Rogers's album 'Eyes That See in the Dark' written by Barry and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, and sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.In 1985, Rogers released his album, ‘The Heart of the Matter’, which topped the music charts. The following year, he came out with the album, ‘They Don’t Make Them like They Used To’. In 1987, he came out with his album, ‘I Prefer the Moonlight’, which was a success in the genre of country music. That same year, he sang the duet, 'Make No Mistake, She's Mine' with Ronnie Milsap.
More Albums In 1989, Rogers came out with the album, ‘Something Inside So Strong’. In 1990, , he came out with the album, ‘Love Is Strange’. He subsequently released his albums, ‘Back Home Again’ and ‘If Only My Heart Had a Voice’. Rogers also came out with the albums, ‘Vote for Love’, ‘Across My Heart’ and ‘She Rides Wild Horses’. He also released the collaboration album, ‘Timepiece’ with David Foster.
Billboard Top Country Albums In 2000, Rogers came out with the album, 'There You Go Again', which featured the singles, ‘There You Go Again’, ‘He Will, She Knows’ and ‘Homeland’. His subsequent albums include, 'Back to the Well' and 'Water & Bridges'. In 2011, he released the album, ‘The Love of God’ under the Cracker Barrel label. The following year he came out with the album titled, ‘Amazing Grace’ and the holiday album, ‘Christmas Live!’In June 2013, Rogers delivered a performance at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. His' album, ‘The Gambler’ peaked at the number one position on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums and the Canadian RPM Country Albums. This was one of his most popular albums.
Awards & Achievements In 1978, Rogers received the Grammy award for the category of ‘Best Country Vocal Performance – Male’ for 'Lucille'. In 1980, he received the Grammy award for the category of ‘Best Country Vocal Performance – Male’ for ‘The Gambler’. Rogers thrived for some 60 years and has sold 165 million records before retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, Rogers always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.Kenny Rogers has a big heart. He has received several awards for his charity work. The star has supported several causes such as the eradication of the human immunodeficiency virus, children’s rights, creative arts, disaster relief, health, human rights, Parkinson’s disease, poverty, unemployment and the refugees.
Marriages and Family Kenny Rogers was married five times and had five children. In 1958, he married Janice Gordon but divorced in 1960. The couple had Carole Lynne. In 1960, he married Jean Laverne Massey but divorced in 1963. He then married Margo Anderson in 1964, but they divorced in 1976. The couple had son, Kennedy. In 1977, Rogers married Marianne Gordon and had son, Christopher, but divorced in 1993. His fifth marriage was to Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. They had twin sons and were married for 22 years until his death in 2020. Facts Kenny made a comedic appearance -- as Himself -- on 'Reno 911!' in 2004.He had a pet goat named Smitty and once kept alpacas on his Athens, Ga. farm.Kenny Joined the Bobby Doyle Trio as a bassist -- even though he didn't play the bass.In 1991, he opened Kenny Rogers Roasters, a chain known for his finger-licking chicken and a warm atmosphere for customers. He sold the restaurant seven years later to Nathan’s Famous, Inc.In 2013, Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the prestigious Diamond Award to celebrate his sale of 10 million copies of The Greatest.Rogers used to collect HarleysThe song - 'We Are The World' was recorded in Kenny Rogers studio.Rogers was a passionate Amateur Photographer. In 1987, he released a book of celebrity portraits he'd taken called 'Your Friends and Mine'. He was once invited at the White House to create a portrait of First Lady - Hillary Rodham Clinton.Rogers was a pro-level tennis player.Rogers dabbled in Interior Design. He put this talent to great use by partnering with Jim Weinberg and establishing Kenji Design Studio, an interior design studio based in Atlanta.Quotes "Don't be afraid to give up the good for the great.""I've always said music should make you laugh, make you cry or make you think.""Growing older is not upsetting; being perceived as old is.""Youth is a frame of mind. If you get out there and enjoy it, you can have it at any time of your life.""You can't make old friends. You either have them or you don't.""I had holes in my jeans well before it was fashionable.""Friendships come and go, but families are forever.""I feel like I learn something from everything I do.""It won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek.""I do ballads that say what every man wants to say and that every woman wants to hear, or I do songs about social issues."Funeral
On March 20, 2020, Kenneth Donald Rogers passed away “peacefully at home from natural causes at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, surrounded by his family. The family are planning a small private service 'out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency' with a public memorial planned for a later date.