Kenny Rogers Dead: 'GMA' Anchor Robin Roberts Reveals Unexpected Connection to Late Country Music Legend

Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts paid tribute to country music legend Kenny Rogers on Instagram Saturday, after his family announced his death. Roberts was a country music DJ early on in her career and noted that she often played Rogers' music during her shifts. Rogers died late Friday night at age 81.

"Very sad to wake up to the news that [Rogers] has passed away," Roberts wrote on Instagram. "Thinking of his family and many fans. I had the pleasure of meeting Kenny and he was always such a gentleman. When I was a country music DJ in Hammond, Louisiana in the early 80's I often ended my Saturday night 9pm to 1am shift at WFPR 14Country by playing Kenny's 'Through The Years.' Just one of the country legend’s many hit songs."

"Through The Years" is one of Rogers' big hits and was featured on the Lionel Richie-produced album Share Your Love in 1981. Rogers often performed the song on stage. Richie and Dolly Parton joined him on the song for his 2011 TV special Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Robin Roberts (@robinrobertsgma) on

Many of Roberts' fans were surprised to hear she worked as a country music DJ. While attending Southeastern Louisana Univeristy, Roberts worked at the country radio station WFPR-AM in Hammond, Louisiana. She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama and began her television career at WDAM in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and worked at WSMV in Nashville in the mid-1980s.

"Robin......A country music DJ, who'd a thought," one fan wrote. "What haven't you done! Thank you for all the positivity you spread everyday."

"One of your many talents. DJ~who knew?" another wrote.

Other fans shared what Rogers' music means to them and their families in Roberts' comments section.

"My dad danced with Grandma to that song at his wedding," one wrote. "We lost her to cancer a year later. I danced with Daddy to that song at my wedding to honor and remember her. She was one of his biggest fans!"

One fan later asked Roberts what her favorite Rogers song was. There were too many to pick, but she did list "Lady," "Islands in the Stream" and "Through the Years."

Rogers died late Friday night in hospice care, his family said. While they will have a small private memorial, a bigger one will be scheduled after the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, country music fans and Rogers' colleagues are in mourning.

0comments

"[He] became one of my heroes," Garth Brooks wrote in a letter published by Billboard. "Just watching how he treated his band, his guys, everybody, they'd all been with him for 100 years. It was like, 'This is how you do it.' I'm really, really thankful that Bob was smart enough to tell me to get on that tour."

Photo credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for SiriusXM