Country Music Icon Kenny Rogers Dies At 81

Country music legend Kenny Rogers, 81, passed away quietly in his home on Friday evening, his family announced.

The family specified in a statement posted on the singer’s website and his social media accounts that the five-time CMA Award winner “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”

“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 PM at the age of 81,” a tweet from Rogers’ verified account read.


ABC News reports Rogers struck success, selling tens of millions of records and winning three Grammys.

“Rogers thrived for some 60 years before he retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer,” the report adds.

“You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison,” Rogers told The Associated Press in 2015, as ABC News reports. “And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.”

Here’s more on Rogers’ career, from ABC News:

A true rags-to-riches story, Rogers was raised in public housing in Houston Heights with seven siblings. As a 20-year-old, he had a gold single called “That Crazy Feeling,” under the name Kenneth Rogers, but when that early success stalled, he joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass player.

But his breakthrough came when he was asked to join the New Christy Minstrels, a folk group, in 1966. The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic song, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Rogers and First Edition mixed country-rock and folk on songs like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” a story of a Vietnam veteran begging his girlfriend to stay.

After the group broke up in 1974, Rogers started his solo career and found a big hit with the sad country ballad “Lucille,” in 1977, which crossed over to the pop charts and earned Rogers his first Grammy. Suddenly the star, Rogers added hit after hit for more than a decade.

Reuters reports the family is still seeking “a small private service” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The report adds:

Rogers embarked on a world farewell tour in 2016 but in April 2018 he canceled the last few shows citing “a series of health challenges.”

Rogers, a three-time Grammy winner and a Country Music Hall of Famer, was best known for songs like “The Gambler” and his 1983 duet with Dolly Parton “Islands in the Stream.”

After beginning his career in the 1950s with a jazz group, Rogers went solo in the 1970s and released his break-through single “Lucille” in 1977.

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