Kenneth Ray Rogers or more popularly known as Kenny Rogers is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. He has recorded more than 120 hit singles of different music genres and capped the country and pop album charts in the United States alone for over 200 individual weeks. Aside from that, he has also sold more than a hundred million records worldwide which made him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Kenny Rogers was also voted by the USA Today and People magazine as the “Favorite Singer of All-Time” in 1986. He has also received a lot of awards such as the Grammys, ACMs, AMAs, and CMAs, and even a lifetime achievement award in 2003 for a career crossing six decades.
Aside from being a singer and songwriter, Kenny Rogers also acted in a variety of TV shows and movies and some of the popular ones were, Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, and the MacShayne series. He has also appeared on The Muppet Show. He is also a co-founder of the Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant chain.
Kenny Rogers was born in Houston, Texas on August 21, 1938. He was the fourth of eight children and is of Irish and Native American ancestry. His mother was Lucille Lois who was a nurse assistant, and his father was Edward Floyd Rogers who was a carpenter. Kenny grew up in poor circumstances in a federal housing project.
Kenny Rogers attended Wharton Elementary School and Jefferson Davis High School. He was the first member of his family to finish high school. It was that time when he decided to pursue a career in music.
Kenny Rogers had five marriages and has five children from four of them. He keeps a pet goat in his estate in Colbert, Georgia and according to him, it has been his center that provides him a calming influence after his long and stressful tours.
Kenny Rogers began his career in music in the mid-1950’s with the band called “The Scholars” which became popular after releasing the single, “Poor Little Doggie”. In 1958, Rogers came out with a minor solo with the title, “That Crazy Feeling”. After that, he became part of a jazz group named “The Bobby Doyle Trio”. That group worked for Columbia Records and earned a number of fans.
The Bobby Doyle Trio broke up in 1965 and the following year, Kenny Rogers recorded the jazzy rock single called “Here’s That Rainy Day”. Unfortunately, that single was a failure, but he stilled continued to work as a writer, session musician, and producer with other artists.
In 1996, Kenny Rogers became part of “The New Christy Minstrels” which was an American folk music group. He was a singer in that group and a double bass player as well. However, he wasn’t happy with his association with the group because it did not offer him the success he wanted.
In 1967, Kenny Rogers formed a group named “The First Edition” together with his fellow Minstrel members namely, Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho. Later on, the group was renamed “Kenny Rogers and The First Edition”. They created and released an collection of hits that topped the country and pop charts.
In 1976, Kenny Rogers quit The First Edition to begin a solo career after being with them for ten years. In that same year, he released his first solo album titled, “Love Lifted Me”, which achieved minor success.
Kenny Rogers came out with his self-titled album in 1977 and it was released worldwide. That album became his first major solo success. Included in that album are the hit singles, “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got)” and “Lucille”.
In July of the same year, he released his third solo album called “Daytime Friends” which also became successful. This album featured the tracks, “Daytime Friend”, “Desperado”, and “Rock and Roll Man”.
He released his fifth album in 1978 and it was titled, “Love or Something Like It”, and it also became a hit album. The album’s track title, which Kenny Rogers also co-wrote was an immense success. In the same year, he also released, “Every Time Two Fools Collide”, which as a collaboration album.
In November of the same year, he released his sixth studio album called, “The Gambler”. The title track of the album earned Kenny Rogers a Grammy Award. It also topped the charts and made him the most popular artist during that time.
In 1979, his seventh album, “Kenny”, was released. It included the singles, “Coward of the Country” and “You Decorated My Life”. This was also a successful and chart topping album. His eight album was released in 1980 and it was called, “Gideon”. It also topped the country and pop charts just like its successors. It featured the international hit, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer”, which was a duet with Kim Carnes.
Kenny Rogers recorded the hit song, “Lady”, in September 1980. It was a song written by Lionel Richie. In the same year, his first holiday album, “Christmas” came out, as well as the compilation album called “Greatest Hits”. Richie then went on to produce Kenny Rogers’ songs the following year.
In 1981, Richie produced Kenny Rogers’ album called, “Share Your Love”. It was a chart topper and commercial favorite. It featured hits such as, “I Don’t Need You”, “Through the Years”, and “Share Your Love with Me”.
In 1985, the album “The Heart of the Matter” was released and it also topped the music charts. Then after a year, the album, “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used to” was released.
In 1987, the album, “I Prefer the Moonlight” came out and became a success in the country music genre. In that same year, Kenny Rogers sang the duet, “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine” with Ronnie Milsap.
Kenny Rogers came out with the album, “Something Inside So Strong” in 1989. Then the following year, he released the album, “Love is Strange”. He then afterwards released the albums, “Back Home Again” and “If Only My Heart Had a Voice”.
When the 1990’s came, Kenny Rogers continued to chart with singles such as “The Factory” and “Crazy in Love”. It was also in the 90’s when he released the albums, “Vote for Love, “Across My Heart”, and “She Rides Wild Horses”. He also created and released a collaboration album with David Foster which was called, “Timepiece” in 1994.
In 1999, Kenny Rogers scored with the single “The Greatest”, which is a song about life from a child’s perspective. It reached the top 40 of Billboard’s country singles chart. Aside from that, it also became a Country Music Television number one video.
Kenny Rogers in the 21st Century
For the first time in more than a decade, Kenny Rogers was back at number one with his 2000 single, “Buy Me a Rose”. He held the record until 2003 when the 70-year-old Willie Nelson became the oldest artist to be on the top spot of the country charts with his duet, “Beer for My Horses” with Toby Keith.
For a couple of years, Kenny Rogers did not record new albums but he still continued to have success in different countries with more greatest hits packages. In 2005, he released the album, “42 Ultimate Hits” which was his first hits collection to span his days with the First Edition to the present. This album reached number 6 on the American country charts and went gold as well.
In 2005, a double album called, “The Very Best of Kenny Rogers” was released and it sold well in Europe. It was also his first solo hits album that reached the United Kingdom for over a decade.
In March 2006, Kenny Rogers signed with Capitol Records. He had more success with the TV advertised release “21 Number Ones” in January of the same year. It was then followed by a new studio album called, “Water & Bridges” which was released in March 2006 on the Capitol Nashville Records label. The first single from this album was “I Can’t Unlove You” which peaked at number 17 on the country charts.
In 2007, the 1877 Kenny Rogers album was re-issued as a double CD. It also featured the 1979 Kenny album which again put Kenny Rogers’ name into the worldwide charts. He has recorded 65 albums and sold more than 165 million records.
In 2008, Kenny Rogers toured with his Christmas Show. Then in 2009, he toured the United Kingdom and also embarked on his 50th anniversary tour which went around the United States, Britain, and Ireland. On April 2010, “Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years”, which was a TV special, was taped. It debuted on March 8, 2011 on Great American Country.
There was also a show held in MGM Grand in Foxwoods which was to celebrate Kenny Rogers’ contribution to the country, blues, and pop music. Dolly Parton as well as Lionel Richie were among those set to perform with Kenny Rogers in that show.
In 2012, Kenny Rogers re-recorded the hit song “Lady” for Lionel Richie’s album, “Tuskegee”. They also performed the song live during the 2012 ACM concert called “Lionel Richie & Friends”.
In 2013, the album, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” was recorded. The title track was a duet with Dolly Parton and it was his first single released in six years. On April of the same year, the CMA declared that Kenny Rogers would be a 2013 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame together with Bobby Bare and Cowboy Jack Clement.
Kenny Rogers announced his farewell tour in 2015 with the title, “The Gambler’s Last Deal”. He announced in the completion of this tour his intention to retire but he is also considering the possibility of recording another studio album.
The concert dates of his tour were scheduled through 2018. This included visits to the United States, England, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. However, on April 5, 2018, Kenny Rogers cancelled his remaining tours due to a series of health issues as advised by doctors.
Kenny Rogers’ Other Ventures
Kenny Rogers is popularly known as a singer because of all the greatest hits he made. But aside from that, he also had a success as an actor. Some of his movies and shows were Six Pack, The Gamblers series, Christmas in America, and Coward of the County. He also became a host and narrator for the A&E historical series called, “The Real West”.
Aside from acting, Kenny Rogers was also once obsessed with photography. In fact, he had authored the photo books, “Kenny Rogers’ America (1986)” and “Your Friends and Mine (1987)”. And did you know that he was once invited at the White House to create a portrait of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Kenny Rogers is also an entrepreneur because in 1991, he collaborated with John Y. Brown, Jr., who is the former CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken, to start up the Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant chain. Kenny Rogers has also put his name to the Gambler Chassis Co., which is a Sprint car racing manufacturer in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was one of the fastest and widely used Sprint cars.
Kenny Rogers has indeed created a lot of great music and has contributed big to the country and pop music genres. He has a lot of great songs that never gets old because both oldies music fans and new generation of music lovers still enjoy and appreciate his music up to the present time. He is one of the most successful artists, not just in the music industry but in acting as well.