Music star Kenny Rogers dies at age 81

(March 21, 2020) He was arguably the biggest singer in the country for a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and he made a basketful of successful songs that crossed over from country to pop to soul. We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of music legend Kenny Rogers at age 81. He reportedly died at his Georgia home under hospice care.

Born in Houston, Texas, Rogers' direction was shaped after he saw R&B legend Ray Charles perform live. He first found success as a bass player in a jazz ensemble. But by the mid-60s, he had formed his group The First Edition, and, with his instantly recognizable voice, took them up the pop charts with hits like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” and “Reuben James.”

(March 21, 2020) He was arguably the biggest singer in the country for a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and he made a basketful of successful songs that crossed over from country to pop to soul. We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of music legend Kenny Rogers at age 81. He reportedly died at his Georgia home under hospice care.

Born in Houston, Texas, Rogers' direction was shaped after he saw R&B legend Ray Charles perform live. He first found success as a bass player in a jazz ensemble. But by the mid-60s, he had formed his group The First Edition, and, with his instantly recognizable voice, took them up the pop charts with hits like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” and “Reuben James.”

The 70s brought solo success for Rogers, as he became best known for relatable, storytelling songs that were tailor made for videos – and in some cases, even movie adaptations. “The Gambler” became a #1 song and also Rogers’ signature hit. “Lucille” and “Coward of the County” and dozens of other consecutive hits during the period set Rogers’ place by the end of the decade as the King of Country music.

In 1980, Rogers teamed with Commodores lead Lionel Richie to work on an album that would have even broader appeal. The result was the single “Lady,” Rogers’ biggest hit to date, which spent 6 weeks at #1 on the pop charts, and crossed over to soul music radio. It became the zenith of Rogers’ success, and also paved the way for Richie to leave the Commodores for his own solo career. He had another smaller brush with the soul music world four years later, teaming with James Ingram and Kim Carnes for the maudlin “What About Me?”

By the new millennium, Rogers’ hitmaking days were largely over, but he toured regularly and successfully, particularly with his Christmas show and several projects teaming with Dolly Parton. He also leveraged his name successfully in business ventures, including his Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant chain.

Kenny Rogers proved himself to be one of the most recognizable artists of his time, and he moved with both grace and success from challenge to challenge to create a memorable career for himself, and a lot of joy for his millions of fans. Rest in peace, Mr. Rogers.

 By Chris Rizik

 

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