Dolly Parton will always hold a piece of late singer Kenny Rogers close to her heart. The “Jolene” songstress said she “loved” the iconic songwriter “to death” while candidly opening up about their friendship on a new episode of The Zane Lowe Show.
“Kenny was like a soulmate of mine,” Dolly, 74, sweetly shared during the episode titled “At Home With Dolly Parton” in late November. “We were like brother and sister in a way, but we were really like best friends. We loved each other to death.”
While recalling some of her favorite memories with the “Gambler” crooner, who died at age 81 in March 2020, Dolly said there was “just something” different about her bond with Kenny. “We were so funny together,” she gushed. “We both had a crazy sense of humor, and we would just laugh so hard, in between times because we just hit each other’s funny bone.”
The Steel Magnolias actress and Kenny had such a strong relationship because of their “honesty” and “total upfront openness” with one another, but that wasn’t the only quality that drew Dolly to the beloved record producer.
“I always loved his voice,” she marveled. “I never, ever got tired of hearing Kenny. When we were working on the road together touring some, I’d watch his show every night from the wing. And then when our voices would come together on the duets that we did, I thought it was a really good.”
Throughout the years, Dolly and Kenny teamed up countless times to produce hit songs, including “Islands In the Stream,” “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” “Real Love” and many more. Even though Dolly felt like Kenny’s “thick voice” perfectly “complimented” her softer sound, there were other reasons why she enjoyed working with him so much.
“I think that our emotions and our personal magic kind of wove itself into that too,” she explained to host Zane Lowe. “And I think people felt the love and the passion that we had for one another. That passion, I think, kind of transcended into our music and into our sparkle that we had with each other. It was always real. Everything that you saw about me and Kenny and heard was real.”
The Grammy Award winner and the late “Coward of the County” shared an undeniable connection, but Dolly insisted it was always platonic. “We were never lovers, but we were very passionate with each other,” she explained. “We were that strong with our love and our passion for one another, but it was more about our music.”
Whether or not they were ever romantic in the past, Dolly is grateful to have experienced so many milestones with a friend like Kenny by her side. “He just touched me in a way and made me laugh in ways that other people didn’t,” she shared. “And I was the same with him.”
Kenny is survived by wife Wanda Miller, whom he married in 1997, as well as his five kids, Carole, Christopher, Kenny Jr., Justin and Jordan. The actor was also previously linked to ex-wives Janice Gordon, Jean Rogers, Margo Anderson and Marianne Gordon. As for Dolly, she’s been married to her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, since 1966.