“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 p.m. at the age of 81,” the statement read. “Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”
The message went on to pay tribute to Rogers’ impressive career, which spanned more than six decades. The singer-songwriter is best known for his hit songs “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” and “Through the Years.” His music was an inspiration to both fellow artists and fans.
During his music career, Rogers earned 24 No. 1 hits, became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, won six CMA Awards and three Grammy Awards. He also received the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 and the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award in 2015.
“The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency,” the statement continued. “They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.”
On top of all of his accolades, Rogers was also one of the very first country music stars to crossover into pop music, paving the way for many artists after him. “I came into country music not trying to change country music but trying to survive,” he told CMT during an interview in 2016. “And so I did songs that were not country but were more pop. Nowadays they’re not doing country songs at all. What they’re doing is creating their own genre of country music. But I told somebody the other day, country music is what country people will buy. If the country audience doesn’t buy it, they’ll kick it out. And if they do, then it becomes country music. It’s just era of country music we’re in.”
Rogers announced his retirement from music in 2015, but in April 2018, he was forced to cancel the last leg of his farewell tour due to a “series of health challenges,” according to People, but later recovered. He was hospitalized for dehydration in May 2019 but his health later stabilized. Rogers performed his final concert at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on October 25, 2017.
After news of Rogers’ death was revealed, his longtime friend and collaborator, Dolly Parton, took to social media to share a tribute. “You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” the country music star, 74, wrote on Instagram. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, Dolly.”