Kenny Rogers, the Country Music Hall of Famer, passed away on Friday night at the age of 81. The hitmaking singer’s death was confirmed in a post on his verified Twitter account.

As Rogers’ publicist, Keith Hagan, notes in the death announcement,

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world. Chart-topping hits like “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” and “Through the Years” are just a handful of Kenny Rogers’ songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans alike. 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.  

The statement from Rogers’ camp also notes that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, the artist’s family is planning a small, private service to remember him and they look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with friends and fans alike at a later date.

While perhaps best-known as a country singer, Rogers’ exploits stretch far beyond the “country” designation. After beginning his recording career in the late 1950s with acts like jazz singer Bobby Doyle and folk outfit New Christy Minstrels (on both bass and vocals), Kenny and several other members of New Christy Minstrels left the band in 1967 to form the First Edition, with whom he recorded his first major hits including “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”. After the First Edition parted ways in the mid-’70s, Rogers embarked on a long, decorated career as a solo country artist, earning countless awards and honors for his work to go along with his stable of hit songs.

The First Editon – “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” – 3/16/72

[Video: jack moore]

Kenny Rogers would go on to embark on several notable, wide-ranging collaborations throughout his career, from duets with the likes of Dolly Parton and Don Henley to a songwriting partnership with Lionel Richie to a surprising sit-in with Phish for a rendition of his signature song, “The Gambler”, at Bonnaroo 2012.


As Rogers noted about the Phish collab in a 2015 interview with the Asbury Park Press, “It was so much fun, they were so receptive. (Phish) came in my dressing room and said, ‘We really want to do this, would you mind doing it?’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t mind doing it.’ And, when I performed at Bonnaroo, the first thing I said was, ‘What’s wrong with this picture, Kenny Rogers and Bonnaroo?’ And it was fun. The people loved it. … Phish was one of those groups that I had heard but didn’t really know, and I think from that date on I realized how big they were.”

Phish w/ Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler” – Bonnaroo 2012

Rest in peace, Kenny.