Kenny Rogers' estate has filed a lawsuit against the late singer's employee and friend Kelly Junkermann, claiming that he allegedly produced an unauthorized DVD of the late singer's farewell tour. According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, Junkermann recorded the tour and attempted to sell a DVD titled Kenny Rogers — The Gambler's Last Deal.
The documents allege that Junkermann convinced Rogers to allow him to record the tour, though Rogers was adamant that the footage would only be for his personal use and not for commercial release. Rogers' estate is claiming that Junkermann ignored the condition and created the DVD after being repeatedly denied requests, both in writing and verbally, to use the content. Because of this, the estate claims that Junkermann made a deal with a distributor even though he knew he did not have permission to do so.
The DVD reportedly included "priceless and irreplaceable audio, video, photographic and audiovisual content that were compiled over the course of Kenny Rogers' decades-long career." Its release was blocked earlier this year, but the estate reportedly spent $290,000 in legal fees to do so. The estate is suing for damages and an injunction to prevent the DVD from ever being released. The estate claims that the DVD is "not up to Rogers' standards and would damage his brand," and should not be confused with the estate's own farewell tour project.
Rogers' last concert was on Oct. 25, 2017 in Nashville at an all-star tribute concert, All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration, that also included performances by Don Henley, Kris Kristofferson, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town. Dolly Parton was also in attendance and performed "Islands in the Stream" with Rogers for the last time. Prior to that show, Rogers had traveled the world for two years on his Gambler's Last Deal tour, though he ultimately canceled the remainder of the trek in 2018 on the advice of his doctor.
"I didn’t want to take forever to retire," he said in a statement at the time, via CMT. "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. I could never properly thank them for the encouragement and support they’ve given me throughout my career and the happiness I’ve experienced as a result of that."
Rogers died in March at age 81 from natural causes and passed away "peacefully" at home under the care of hospice surrounded by loved ones.