Kenny Rogers Dead At 81

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kenny Rogers Dead At 81

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kenny Rogers has passed away. The legendary country musician’s family confirmed the news on his official Twitter account, saying that he died of natural causes under hospice care last night. He was 81.

Rogers was born in Houston, Texas in 1938. After scoring a minor solo hit in 1957 with “That Crazy Feeling,” he worked as a songwriter and session musician and played with groups like the Bobby Doyle Three and the New Christy Minstrels. In 1967, he and several other members of the New Christy Minstrels left to form the First Edition; they went on to achieve success with hit singles like “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”

When the First Edition disbanded in 1976, Rogers signed with United Artists and began to pursue a solo career. He released his debut solo album Love Lifted Me and its follow-up Kenny Rogers that same year, scoring another major hit with “Lucille.” His two most popular-albums, The Gambler and Kenny, soon followed.

Starting in the late ’70s and continuing throughout the ’80s, Rogers recorded a series of albums and duets with artists like Dottie West, Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton, and Dolly Parton and collaborated with Lionel Richie and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb. His Parton duet “Islands In The Stream” and the Richie-penned “Lady” both reached #1 on the pop charts.

Rogers found success outside the music industry as well, starring in the 1982 film Six Pack and several made-for-TV movies based on his signature song “The Gambler.” He also opened up a chicken and ribs restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters, which was famously featured in an episode of Seinfeld.

Rogers announced a farewell tour in 2015 and kept performing for two years before calling off the remaining dates due to health issues. He’s won three Grammys, six CMA Awards, been inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association, and had his song “The Gambler” added to the Library Of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

Revisit some of his work below.

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