Ever since Kenny Rogers rose to fame in the early 1960s, he’s been one of country music’s most iconic stars. Even following his death in March 2020, fans will always remember the beloved “Islands in the Stream” performer for his legendary singing and songwriting.
The late entertainer achieved his first taste of Hollywood superstardom after he joined the New Christy Minstrels, a folk group started by fellow musician Randy Sparks, in 1961. After releasing some songs throughout a few years, Kenny and some Minstrels formed their own ensemble called the First Edition.
The country-pop band found themselves in the spotlight after they released tunes including “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” “Reuben James,” and “Something’s Burning.”
Kenny and his bandmates also hosted a variety show titled Rollin’ on the River that took place in Mississippi. The show, which ran from 1971 to 1973, featured high profile guests like Kris Kristofferson, B.B. King, Al Green and duo Cheech and Chong. Wow!
Following his run with the First Edition, Kenny went solo in the 1970s and released his first major song “Lucille.” The former heartthrob proved he deserved his spot in Hollywood as he took home a Grammy for the 1997 song. “Lucille” was also named song of the year and single of the year by the Academy of Country Music.
In 1978, Kenny released his album The Gambler – which also won him another Grammy for best male country vocal performance. From that moment on, the “Coward of a Country” crooner went on to make history.
Besides the endless number of accolades he took home, Kenny also worked on tons of various fun projects throughout his career. In 1978, he collaborated with Dottie West on “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” “All I Ever Need Is You” in 1979 and “What Are We Doin’ in Love” in 1981. He also famously teamed up with Dolly Parton on the No. 1 hit song “Islands in the Stream” in 1983.
Kenny’s talents also went far beyond singing and songwriting. In 1998, he tested out his entrepreneurial skills as he started his own record label, Dreamcatcher Entertainment.
Despite the incredible amount of success and fortune — including his $250 million net worth — Kenny experienced throughout his decades-long career, his ex-wife Marianne Gordon said he was always the same, humble man. In fact, Marianne revealed to Closer Weekly how she remembers her ex-husband following his heartbreaking death.
“He was an incredible person,” the Rosemary’s Baby actress exclusively shared. “He was always in a good mood and had a wonderful sense of humor about things … and he really didn’t change with fame.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see Kenny through the years!
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