Kenny Rogers Dead: Country Music Icon Dies at 81

Kenny Rogers has passed away. The singer died on Friday at his home from natural causes. He was 81 at the time of his death. His family broke the news in a statement posted on social media early Saturday morning. His time of death was 10:25 p.m. on Friday, with his family by his side. Rogers was "under the care of hospice" in the time leading up to his passing. In the full statement, Rogers' family said they would only hold "a small private service" for the "Islands in the Stream" and "The Gambler" singer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A public memorial will happen at a later date.

Rogers was born in 1938 as the fourth of eight children in Houston, Texas. Rogers showed an early affinity for music, teaching himself to play guitar in high school, and starting a group called The Scholars. Rogers left The Scholars to join the New Christy Minstrels in 1966, leaving after one year with a few other members to form The First Edition, releasing the psychedelic "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."

In 1974, Rogers left First Edition to launch his solo career. He experimented with several types of music in the early part of his career, from rock to pop, to becoming one of the leading crossover artists of the next several decades. In 1976 his debut album, Love Lifted Me, was released on United Artists Records. The record included one Top 20 hit, the title track. Rogers' first of many No. 1 hits came with "Lucille," from his self-titled sophomore record. "Lucille" also became a Top 5 hit on the pop charts,and earned him his first GRAMMY for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

Rogers remained on the charts for the next 30 years, releasing 39 studio albums and more than 80 singles. Rogers, whose last Top 20 hit came in 2005 with "I Can't Unlove You," had numerous chart-topping hits, including "The Gambler," "She Believes in Me," "Lady," "I Don't Need You" and "Morning Desire," among others.

Rogers also recorded several hit duets over his career that spanned more than five decades, including "Islands in the Stream" and "You Can't Make Old Friends" with Dolly Parton, "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer" with Kim Carnes, and "Every Time Two Fools Collide," "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight" and "All I Ever Need is You" with Dottie West.

The Country Music Hall of Fame member announced in 2015 that he was embarking on his farewell tour, The Gambler's Last Deal, so he could spend more time at home with his twin boys, Justin and Jordan, who were born in 2004. Rogers was treated to an all-start tribute concert in his honor on October 25 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, where more than a dozen artists, including Dolly Parton, Idina Menzal, Chris Stapleton, the Judds, Lady Antebellum, Kris Kristofferson and more performed Rogers' songs.

Rogers intended to tour through 2018. But on April 4 of that year, it was announced that Rogers had canceled the remainder of his tour, citing health concerns.

"Kenny Rogers has been working through a series of health challenges," a statement said. "His doctors fully expect the outcome to be great, but they have advised him to cancel all performances through the end of the year to focus on recuperation."


"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."

Rogers is survived by his fifth wife, Wanda, and three adult children, in addition to his twins.