He was synonymous with country music, and wowed the world with hits such as The Gambler, Lucille, Lady Island in the Stream and She believes in Me. But Kenny Rogers, who many believe entered the world music scene with a bang quietly passed on peacefully from what family described as natural causes at 81. He died at home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, in the United States, thus putting an end to a roller coaster career that spanned six decades, produced hits upon hits, three Grammy’s and five marriages, each longer than the preceding one.
Rogers’ publicist, Keith Hagan, told CNN that he passed on exactly 10:25pm on 20 March, 2020, surrounded by family members who were planning a small, private service out of concern for the coronavirus pandemic, “but look forward to celebrating the life of Kenny Rogers publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.”
Of course, this legendary artiste is worth celebrating, what with the height he took country music to at the peak of his career. According to his publicist, “Rogers, with twenty-four number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time Grammy Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and has been voted the ‘Favorite Singer of All Time’ in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.”
Still, the intriguing thing about Roger’s death is that he seemed to have had foreknowledge of it. This is why. Sometime in 2015, Rogers had announced a farewell tour and was able to keep it going through December 2017. In April 2018, a few months before completing the tour after a break, he announced that he was calling off the remaining dates (including a planned appearance at the Stagecoach Festival in California), due to unspecified “health challenges.”
“I didn’t want to take forever to retire,” Rogers said in his April 2018 statement. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to say farewell to the fans over the course of the past two years on ‘The Gambler’s Last Deal’ tour. I could never properly thank them for the encouragement and support they’ve given me throughout my career and the happiness I’ve experienced as a result of that.”
In an interview with the CNN in 2016, Rogers who though was a family man but survived five marriages and four divorces, also said: “I ‘I hope my fans understand that I’m a father first and a singer second,” Rogers said, mentioning at that time that he had 11-year-old twin boys with his wife, Wanda Miller..
“As it turns out, I’m missing some very great parts of my boys’ lives. I know as well as anybody else how that time gets away from you. And I don’t want to miss it. I just worry about how much longer I’m going to be here, and I want to have time to spend with them. It’s pretty simple,” he maintained.
It is also very instructive to note that Rogers was also a writer and photographer. He authored the photo books Kenny Rogers’ America in 1986 and Your Friends and Mine in 1987. He also published a memoir, “Luck or Something Like It,” in 2012, and a novel, “What Are the Chances,” in 2013.
Certainly, Rogers had many chances in life. He was born the fourth of eight children on August 21, 1938 into a poor family in Houston, Texas. His mother, Lucille Lois was a Nurse Assistant, while his father, Edward Floyd Rogers, was a carpenter. In a career that spanned six decades, he recorded 65 albums and sold over 165 million records. He topped the charts during the 1970s and 1980s, and won three Grammy awards. He was best known for his hit song The Gambler, released in 1978.
Aside from his musical exploits, he was married five times and had five children from the marriages. He married Janice Gordon on May 15, 1958; they divorced in April 1960 with one child. He then married Jean Rogers in October 1960 and divorced her in 1963. He married Margo Anderson in October 1964 and divorced her in 1976 with one child. Rogers married Marianne Gordon on October 1, 1977, and divorced her in 1993 with one child. Rogers married for the fifth and final time when he married Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. The couple had twin sons.