While at the Country Music Radio Seminar in Nashville in the early 90’s, I was at a small party hosted by one of the record labels at the Opryland Hotel. I was standing near the buffet table and struck up a conversation with the dude who was serving fried chicken….. I talked with this very pleasant man with a short, neatly trimmed white beard for 5 or 6 minutes before I realized that it was Kenny Rogers himself serving the fried chicken!!!
Singer Kenny Rogers died Friday night, according to a statement from representative Keith Hagan. He was 81.
The statement said Rogers died “peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”
Rogers spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as “Lucille,” “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream.” The Houston-born performer sold tens of millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on “The Gambler” and other songs, making him a superstar in the ’70s and ’80s.
Rogers thrived for some 60 years before retired from touring in 2017 at the age of 79. Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.
“You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison……..And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.”Kenny Rogers
Rogers was a five-time CMA Award winner, as well as the recipient of the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, the same year he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He received 10 awards from the Academy of Country Music. He sold more than 47 million records in the United States alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.