Oh how much we will miss you, Kenny Rogers! In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, the country legend opens up about choosing his family over the stage in his decision to retire at 79 years old.

“No question, I’ll miss the crowds who’ve always been so sweet. And I’ll miss the friendships,” the singer tells Closer of his 60-year career in which he sold more than 120 million records and scored 24 No. 1 hits. “It’s hard to retire, but in my heart I want to stay home with my family.”

Increased rest is essential, especially given his two energetic teens who are hungry for his attention. “My boys are playing football,” he says, “and we went to watch a game. They were so excited about me being there! That’s the kind of thing that, as a parent, you want to be part of as much as you can. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about them.”

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Kenny was a nurturing figure to many generations of his fellow performers, too. “He opened many doors for me,” Travis Tritt, who performed at his idol’s farewell show, revealed. “He took me under his wing when I was first getting started, allowing me to open shows. And opening shows for Kenny Rogers is a big deal,” Travis, 54, notes. “Kenny’s vocals always came from the heart and his voice is so recognizable. The material he picked was always top-of-the-line.”

Even younger artists, like Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, 31, are aware of what country music is losing with Kenny’s retirement. “He always looked for every opportunity to encourage, inspire, and share nuggets of wisdom that he had learned,” she reveals. “He wanted others to have the career that they deserve. And the way he connects with a crowd — he makes everyone feel like they’re in his living room.”

“All I ever wanted to do was make music,” Kenny admits, so going out on a high note is important to him.

For the full interview with Kenny, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!