Kenny Rogers Dead: Lionel Richie Posts Emotional Note to 'One of My Closest Friends'
American Idol judge Lionel Richie shared a heartbreaking tribute to Kenny Rogers, whom he referred to as "one of my closest friends." The country music legend died late Friday night at age 81. Richie and Rogers worked together several times during Rogers' career, most famously on his 1980 hit, "Lady."
"Today I lost one of my closest friends," Richie wrote on Instagram, alongside a gallery of photos of the two together. "So much laughter so many adventures to remember, my heart is broken. My prayers go out to Kenny's Family."
Richie wrote and produced "Lady," which became one of Rogers' biggest hits. Richie also produced Rogers' 1981 album Share Your Love, which included four songs written by Richie. In 2012, Rogers sang "Lady" with Richie during the Lionel Richie and Friends in Concert television special.
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"He's not just a friend of mine, but the song he wrote was truly a changing point in my career," Rogers said of Richie during the special, reports Entertainment Tonight. "It's one of the most identifiable songs I've ever done. I'd love to have you come up and sing it with me."
Richie also performed at the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration in 2017. Before hitting the stage, Richie told One Country it was true that part of "Lady" was written in the bathroom.
"It's true, but it's not that I was in the bathroom, I was just using the ba…no that's not right either," Richie explained. "I was in the bathroom, on the counter, because I didn't realize Kenny was going to get it so fast. So he said, 'Let's do 'Lady.' Well, I hadn't finished 'Lady.' I didn't have the second verse. And I'm never going to live it down. He started sending toilet paper back and said, 'Do you have the second verse.' I said, 'No I got the second verse, just hold on for a minute.' Kenny Rogers does it to me every time."
Rogers died on Friday night in hospice care, his family said. He was 81. After the news broke, dozens of country stars paid tribute.
"Verified Kenny, Go rest high on that mountain," Reba McEntire wrote on Instagram. "Please tell mama and daddy hi for me. Thank you for your friendship and your love. We are going to miss you but we are so happy you're singing with the Angels in heaven. Can't wait to see you again one of these days. Rest in peace my friend."
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