Country music legend Kenny Rogers passed away on Friday, leaving friends, family and fans everywhere in mourning. In the wake of his death, many are revisiting some of Rogers' iconic performances, including the last duet he performed with Dolly Parton. On Oct. 25, 2017, the two performed "Islands in the Stream" one last time.
Rogers and Parton are both icons in their own right, yet the song "Islands in the Stream" is an anthem even greater than the sum of its parts, for many. It makes sense that its final rendition was noted in 2017, when Rogers went out for his grand tour called "All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration." He and Parton sang their last duet at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
"How about me and you go out like rock stars?" Parton asked Rogers on the stage. The crowd cheered, but quickly quieted to hear the two sing the beloved song.
"Islands in the Stream" was written by the Bee Gees, but performed by Rogers and Parton. It was named after a novel by Ernest Hemingway, and was originally intended for Marvin Gaye before Rogers and Parton took it up. It was included on Rogers' album Eyes That See in the Dark.
Rogers retired from touring, recording and most of his musical endeavors after that concert, but he remained an undeniable force in the country music industry. He passed away on Friday, March 20 in hospice care, according to a statement from his family. He was 81 years old.
With the coronavirus pandemic filling the headlines everywhere, many feared that the virus had infected Rogers. However, his family said that he had passed away of natural causes, and was receiving hospice care in his home. He was surrounded by family when he died.
Due to the pandemic, Rogers' family is planning to honor him in "a small private service" for now. At a later date, they hope to have a larger public memorial in his honor.
Rogers was born in 1938, and grew up in Houston, Texas. He was the fourth out of eight siblings, and took to music from a young age. After bouncing between a wide range of genres in his youth, he developed a reputation as a jack of all trades throughout the 1970s.0comments
In spite of his 2017 retirement, Rogers announced plans to tour again in 2018. However, he canceled those dates in April of that year, announcing that he was dealing with "a series of health challenges." He said that he was glad he had already performed a farewell tour beforehand.
"I didn't want to take forever to retire," Rogers said at the time. "I've thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to say farewell to the fans over the course of the past two years on 'The Gambler's Last Deal' tour."