Kenneth Donald “Kenny” Rogers (born August 21, 1938) is an American country music singer-songwriter, photographer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. He has charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres and topping the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone.
Two of his albums, The Gambler and Kenny, are featured in the About.com poll of “The 200 Most Influential Country Albums Ever”.He was voted the “Favorite Singer of All-Time” in a 1986 joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.He has received hundreds of awards for both his music and charity work. These include AMAs, Grammys, ACMs and CMAs, as well as a lifetime achievement award for a career spanning six decades in 2003.
Later success includes the 2006 album release, Water & bridges, an across the board hit, that peaked at # 5 in the Billboard Country Albums sales charts, also high in the Billboard 200 chart. The first single from the album, “I Can’t Unlove You,” was also a chart hit. Remaining to popular entertainer around the world, the following year I completed tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland the telling BBC Radio 2 DJ Steve Wright, his favorite hit was “The Gambler”. I’ve also acted in a variety of movies and television shows, most notably the title roles in Kenny Rogers as The Gambler and the MacShayne series as well as his appearance on the Muppet Show. Rogers currently reside in Nicholson, Georgia.
* 1 Personal life
* 2 Career
o 2.1 Early career
o 2.2 Only career
o 2.3 Beyond the 1990s
* 3 Outside music
* 4 Discography
* 5 Awards/Honors
* 6 Record labels
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
Rogers was born “Kenneth Ray Rogers” in Houston, Texas in 1938, the fourth of seven children born to Lucille (née Hester), a nurse, and Edward Floyd Rogers to carols. Rogers graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in Houston. According to the Texas birth records, his middle name given is Ray and he is sometimes credited in his film roles as “Kenneth Ray Rogers”.
I’ve been married five times. His fourth wife was actress Marianne Gordon Rogers. His current wife is the former Wanda Miller. I have four sons and daughter.
As of 2005, Rogers had become an avid Atlanta Thrashers fan, and can often be seen at Philips Arena taking in a game.
His career began in the mid-1950s, when I recorded with a Doo-Wop group called The Scholars who had some success with a single called “Poor Little Doggie”. Rogers was not the lead singer of the group and after two more singles they disbanded when their leader just went.
Now on his own, Kenneth Rogers (as he was then billed) followed the break up with his own single, to only minor hit called “That Crazy Feeling” (1958). After sales slowed down, Rogers joined jazz group called The Bobby Doyle Trio, who got a lot of work in clubs thanks to a reasonable fan following and also recorded for Columbia Records. The group disbanded in 1965, and in 1966 jazzy rock single Rogers recorded for Mercury Records, called “Here’s That Rainy Day” failed. Rogers also worked as a producer, writer and session musician for other performers; including country artists Mickey Gilley and Eddy Arnold. In 1966 I joined The New Christy Minstrels as a singer and double bass player.
Feeling that the Minstrels were not offering the success they wanted, Rogers and fellow Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Camacho members left the group. They formed The First Edition in 1967 (later renamed “Kenny Rogers and The First Edition”). They chalked up a string of hits on both the pop and country charts, including “Something’s Burning”, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”, “Reuben James” and “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”. In his First Edition days, Rogers had something of to hippie image, with long brown hair, an earring, and pink sunglasses. Known affectionately in retrospect as “Hippie Kenny”, Rogers had a much smoother vocal style than in his later career.
The group split in 1976, When Rogers launched his solo career. Rogers soon developed to more sound, with a somewhat rough but tuneful voiced style that sold to both pop and country audiences; middle of the road to date, I’ve charted more than 60 top 40 hit singles (including upwards of 25 # 1’s) and 50 of his albums have charted. His music has also been featured in top selling movie soundtracks, such as convoy, Urban Cowboy and The Big Lebowski.
After leaving The First Edition in 1976, after almost a decade with the group, Rogers signed to only deal with United Artists. Although producer Larry Butler had no doubts about Rogers’s talent, he was advised by several colleagues not to sign Rogers, who some saw as a has been. Nevertheless, Butler and Rogers began to partnership that would last four years.
Rogers first outing for his new label was Love Lifted Me. The album charted and two singles “Love Lifted Me” and “While The feeling’s Good” were minor hits. The song “Runaway Girl” was featured in the motion picture Trackdown. Later in 1976, Rogers issued his second album, the self-titled Kenny Rogers, whose first single “Laura (what’s He Got That I ain’t Got)”, was just another hit.
However, the single “Lucille” (1977) was a major hit, reaching number one on the pop charts in 12 countries, selling over five million copies, and firmly establishing Rogers’s post-First Edition career. On the strength of “Lucille”, the Kenny Rogers album reached # 1 in the Billboard Country Album Chart. More success was to follow, including the multi million selling album The Gambler and another international Number 1 single, “Coward of the County”, taken from the equally successful album, Kenny. In 1980, the Rogers/Butler partnership came to an end, though they would reunite occasionally: in 1987 on the album I Prefer The Moonlight and again in 1993 on the album If Only My Heart Had A Voice.
In the late 1970s, Rogers teamed up with close friend and country singer Dottie West for a series of albums and duets. Together the duo had three hit albums, selling out stadiums and arenas while on tour. Their hits together “Every Time Two Fools Collide”, “Anyone Who isn’t ain’t Me Tonight” and “What Are We Doin’ in Love” became country standards. Of West, Rogers stated in a 1995 BWT interview “She, more than anybody else I ever worked with with such emotion that you actually believed what she sang sang.” Rogers was with West when she died after sustaining injuries in 1991 car accident. In 1995 I starred opposite Michele Lee in the CBS biopic Big Dreams and Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story.
In 1980, his duet with Kim Carnes “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” became a major hit. Later in 1980 came his partnership with Lionel Richie who wrote and produced Rogers’s # 1 hit “Lady”. Richie went on to write and produce Rogers’s 1981 album Share Your Love, a chart topper and commercial favorite featuring hits such as “I Don’t Need You” (pop # 3), “Through the Years” (pop # 13), and “Share Your Love with me” (pop # 14). In 1982, Rogers released the album Love Will Turn You Around. The title track reached # 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the country and AC charts. Shortly after I started working with producer David Foster in 1983 recording the smash Bob Seger cover “We’ve Got Tonight”, in duet with Sheena Easton.
I went on to work with the Bee Gees to record and produce his 1983 album hit Eyes That See in the Dark, featuring the title track and yet another # 1 hit “Islands in the Stream”, in duet with Dolly Parton. The Gibbs originally wrote the song for Marvin Gaye in an R & B style, only later to change it for the Kenny Rogers album. The partnership with Bee Gees only lasted one album, which was not a surprise considering that Rogers’s original intentions were to work with Barry Gibb in only one song but Barry insisted on them doing the entire album.
“Islands in the Stream”, the first single to be released from Eyes That See in the Dark in the United States, quickly went to # 1 in the Billboard Hot 100. It was the last country single to reach # 1 on that chart until “Amazed” by Lonestar did so in 2000. However, RCA insisted on releasing the title track as the first UK single, the song stalled at a disappointing # 61 and there, although it did stay in the top 100 for several weeks (when it was eventually released in the US, it was more successful, high on the Adult Contemporary chart chart and making the country top 30). “Islands in the Stream” was issued as a follow up single in Britain and sold well, making # 7. The album itself reached # 1 on the country charts on both sides of the Atlantic and enjoyed multi-million sales. “Buried Treasure”, “This Woman” and “Evening Star” / “Midsummer Nights” were also all successful singles from the album.
Shortly after the album came What About Me?, hit whose title track to trio performance with James Ingram and Kim Carnes, was nominated for to Grammy award; the single “Crazy” (not to be confused with the Willie Nelson – Patsy Cline penned hit) topped the country charts. David Foster was to work again with Rogers in his 1985 album The Heart of the Matter, although this time Foster was playing music rather than producing, backing to role given to George Martin. This album was another success, going to # 1, with the title track making to the top ten category in the singles charts.
The next few years saw Rogers scoring several top country hits on to regular basis, including “Twenty Years Ago,” “Morning Desire,” “Tomb of the Unknown Love,” among others. On 28 January 1985 Rogers was one of the 45 artists who recorded the worldwide charity song “We Are the World” to support hunger victims in Africa. The following year I played at Giants Stadium.
On January 1987, Rogers co-hosted the American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. By 1988 to 1990, Rogers had in the 1990s Rogers continued to chart with singles such as “Crazy In Love”, “If You Want To Find Love” and “The Greatest”. From 1991 to 1994, Rogers hosted The Royal West on A & E, and on The History Channel since 1995 (Reruns only on The History Channel.). I also visited Miller’s during this time period. From 1992 to 1995 Rogers co-owned and Branson, Missouri headlined’s 4,000 seat Grand Palace Theatre. In 1994, Rogers released his “dream” album titled Timepiece on Atlantic Records. It consisted of 30’s and 40’s jazz standards; It was the type of music I have performed in his early days with The Bobby Doyle Three in Houston. In 1996 I have released an album Vote For Love where the public requested their favorite love songs and Rogers performed the songs (several of his own hits were in there). The album was the first for the TV shopping channel QVC’s record label, onQ Music. The album, sold exclusively by QVC, was a huge success and was later issued in stores under a variety of different titles. It reached # 1 in the UK country charts under the title Love Songs (a title also used for various compilations) and also crossed over into the mainstream charts.
In 1999 Rogers scored with the single “The Greatest”, a song about life from a child’s point of view (looked at through a baseball game). The song reached the top 40 of Billboard’s country singles chart and was a Country Music Television Number One video. It was on Rogers’s She Rides Wild Horses album the following year (top 10 success itself). In 1999, Rogers also produced a song, “We ve Got It All”, specifically for the series finale of the ABC show Home Improvement. Not on any album, the recording sells for a high sum at auction.
Beyond the 1990s
Kenny Rogers in 2004
In the 21st century, Rogers was back at # 1 for the first time in more than a decade with the 2000 single “Buy Me to rose”, making him, at 61, the oldest artist in the history of country music to reach the summit charts. In doing so, I broke a 26-year-old record held by Hank Snow (who, in April 1974, was 59 years and 11 months old when I scored with “Hello Love”). Rogers held the record until 2003, when then 70-year-old Willie Nelson became the oldest artist to have a no. 1 on the country charts with his duet with Toby Keith, “Beer For My Horses.”
Rogers also released the critically acclaimed album Back to the Well.
Although Rogers didn’t record new albums for a couple of years, I have continued to have success in many countries with more greatest hits packages. In 2004 42 Ultimate Hits, which was the first hits collection to span his days with the First Edition to the present, reached Number 6 on the American country music charts and went gold. It also featured two new songs, “My World Is Over” with Whitney Duncan and “We Are the Same”. “My World Is Over” was released as a single and was a minor hit. In 2005 The Very Best of Kenny Rogers, a double album, sold well in Europe. It was the first new single Kenny Rogers hits album to reach the United Kingdom for over a decade, despite many compilations that were not true hits packages there.
Rogers also signed with Capitol Records and had more success with the TV advertised release 21 Number Ones in January 2006. Although this CD did contain 21 chart-toppers as the title claims (recorded between 1976 and the present day), this was not to complete collection of Rogers’s # 1 singles, omitting such singles as “Crazy in Love” and “What About Me?”
Much of his success was during the period from 1976 to 1983, when he was signed to United Artists and later Liberty. It is very rare for an artist of Rogers’s age to be signed to a major label. Capitol followed 21 Number Ones with Rogers’s new studio album, Water And Bridges, in March 2006 on the Capitol Nashville Records label. The first single from the album was “I Can’t Unlove You” which peaked at # 17 on the country charts, after spending over 6 months on the hit list, more than 50 years after I formed his first group and 38 years after his first major hit as leader of The First Edition; the song remains in recurrent airplay on some radio stations today. “I Can’t Unlove You” was followed up with the second single from the album, “The Last Ten Years (Superman)”, in September 2006. The third single, “Calling Me,” which features Don Henley, became popular in early 2007, and was nominated for a Grammy Award at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Also in 2007, the 1977 “Kenny Rogers” album was re-issued as a double play CD, also featuring the 1979 “Kenny” and this album eleven again put Rogers’s name into the sales charts worldwide. The following year, another compilation album (“A Love Song Collection”) also charted. I have currently lives in Atlanta.
In 2003, Rogers made a guest appearance in two episodes of Reno 911! as himself.
To date Rogers has recorded 65 albums and sold over 165 million records.
On August 26, 2008, Rogers released “50 Years” exclusively at Cracker Barrel stores. The album includes some of Rogers’s greatest hits, plus 3 new songs. The release is designed to celebrate Rogers’s 50th year in the music business. However, it should be noted Rogers has been in the music business for more than 50 years including his releases with The Scholars, who recorded for a local label in Houston. 1958 was the year I signed his first recording deal with a major label.
In 2008 Rogers toured with his very popular Christmas Show. However, I decided to split the show up, making the first half his “best of” and the second half consisted of his Christmas songs. One show was such Mohegan Sun Casino at in Uncasville, CT.
In 2009 I toured the UK, playing in Cardiff CIA (March 27) Birmingham NIA (28) Manchester MEN (29) Newcastle Arena (30) Plymouth Pavilions (April 1) Nottingham Concert Hall (2) London Hammersmith Apollo (3) Bournemouth BIC (4) with support band – Savannah Jack.
In 2009, Kenny embarked on his 50th Anniversary Tour. The tour went around the United States, Britain and Ireland. It will continue into 2010.
In 2010, Rogers and his long – time friend Dolly Parton are set to release a new album. They previously worked together on such songs as Islands in the Stream and Real Love.
On April 10, 2010, to TV special was taped, Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years. Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie are among those set to perform with Kenny during a show celebrating his contribution to country music, blues and pop music, It took place at the MGM Grand in Foxwoods, CT. To date, it has not been aired.
Rogers also had success as an actor. His 1982 movie Six Pack, in which I played a race-car driver, took more than $20 million at the US box office, while made-for-TV movies such as The Gambler, Christmas in America, and Coward of the County (based on hit songs of his) topped ratings lists.
As an entrepreneur, I have collaborated with former KFC CEO John y. Brown, Jr. in 1991 to start up the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters. The chicken and ribs chain, which is similar to Boston Market, was featured in an episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld famously called “The Chicken Roaster”. On the November 27, 1997, broadcast of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Rogers could not pick his chicken out in a taste test, claiming I preferred “greasy burgers.”
Rogers and his restaurant were subjects of comedy from MADtv, especially the impersonation done by Will Sasso; the sketch of the faux-Rogers Jackass hosting became popular on the Internet. Sasso had him making noises such as “Ding Ding Ding Di da Ding Ding Ding” and getting drunk sloppily.
Rogers appeared in a 2004 episode of Reno 911 as himself being subjected to incompetent security provided by sheriff’s deputies to comical effect starstruck. In this episode, Deputy Garcia, who is with Rogers, reveals that RECs I thinks that Rogers should focus all of his effort on acting, and “give that singing thing a rest for a while,” because Garcia believes that Rogers could win an Oscar. In order to “protect” Rogers the deputies take down all of the posters announcing his appearance in Reno, when I finds out I angrily berates the deputies and leaves. He is then promptly shot and wounded by an RECs fan played by Patton Oswalt, though he is only superficially wounded, and composer for “mall security”.
Rogers is also the inspiration behind the pop culture website menwholooklikekennyrogers.com. The site features close to a thousand photos of men who look like the real Rogers, as well as tips on how to look like Rogers, places to spot Rogers look-alikes, and even Kenny of the Month and sells t-shirts and buttons.