Kenny Rogers Dead at 81
Kenny Rogers has died at the age of 81.
The country and pop superstar died "peacefully at home," according to a statement issued late Friday night (March 20). He was surrounded by his loved ones at home, where he had been in hospice care. The statement attributes his death to natural causes.
Rogers was born Kenneth Ray Rogers in Houston, Texas, in 1938. He was the fourth of eight children born to a nurse's assistant and a carpenter, and as he detailed in his autobiography, his father was an alcoholic, and the family's situation was sometimes unpredictable as a result.
Rogers formed his first group, a doo-wop outfit called the Scholars, while still in high school, and he was recording by the late '50s, charting a single as a solo artist and then playing bass in a jazz group called the Bobby Doyle Three before joining a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels in 1966. He left that situation to join the First Edition, which earned success with the psychedelic rock hit "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."
That group became Kenny Rogers and the First Edition to reflect Rogers' growing influence, scoring more hits with "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Reuben James," "Something's Burning" and more before Rogers finally launched a solo career as a country artist.
Through the 1970s and '80s Rogers became one of the best-selling male vocalists of all time, scoring 24 No. 1 hits and placing hits in the country, adult contemporary and pop charts, including "Lucille," "The Gambler," "Lady," "You Decorated My Life" and a collaboration with Dolly Parton titled "Islands in the Stream" in 1981 that was a game-changer for both of them, propelling them from country success into mainstream superstardom.
Kenny Rogers + Dolly Parton Were Adorable Together – Watch:
Rogers continued with a long string of singles throughout the '90s, re-inventing himself time and time again. He also published several books, earned acclaim as a photographer, started his own record label and starred in a number of movies based on his songs. He won a slew of awards for his music, including three Grammy Awards, 19 American Music Awards, 11 People’s Choice Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, six Country Music Association Awards (including the CMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013) and the Artist of a Lifetime Award at the CMT Artists of the Year 2015 award show. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Rogers announced his final tour in 2015, taking it on the road for a series of shows in 2016. He performed the final show of his career at an all-star tribute concert in Nashville in 2017. He is survived by his wife, Wanda, and five children from four of his five marriages.
Stars React to Kenny Rogers' Death
See Kenny Rogers Photos Through the Years: