Esteemed Country Artist Dies at the Age of 81

Source: CNN Entertainment

Source: CNN Entertainment

Kelli Mann, Writer

On Friday night, Kenny Rogers, who lived a legendary six-decade-long music career, died at the age of 81. Rogers’ family announced his passing on his Twitter account. According to his family, he died in the care of hospice, surrounded by family, from natural causes. The family will be holding a small service due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Rogers’ publicist, Keith Hagan, posted in a statement, “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.” Throughout his career, he had 24 No. 1 hits and sold more than 50 million albums in the United States alone. Rogers was also a six-time Country Music Awards winner and three-time Grammy Award winner. Some of his best hits include, “Lady,” “Lucille,” “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Through the Years.” Rogers’ song, “The Gambler,” from 1978, was the inspiration for multiple TV movies, starring him as the main character. A couple of years later, in 1985, he was a participant in the original recording of “We Are the World” alongside many other popular artists. According to his website, a year after that, he co-chaired the Hands Across America” campaign which is dedicated to raising awareness about the homeless and hungry in the country. 

In 2013, Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Organization officials believe that his “distinctive, husky voice” contributed to the induction. That same year, he was also awarded the Country Music Association’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. He wrapped up his career with one last tour and announced his retirement in 2015. “I’ve been so lucky to have enjoyed such a long career and to have such amazing support from my fans and all who have helped me along the way, but there comes a time when I need to focus on spending time with my family,” he said, according to his official website.

At the time of his death, many other stars and close friends have spoken up about his death, including his ex-wife, Marianne Gordon. “He was an incredible person,” Gorden told Closer Weekly. Rogers met Gordon in 1974 and got married in 1977. They welcomed their son, Christopher Cody Rogers in 1981, but parted ways in 1993. “It’s very upsetting when I start talking about him,” she said, fighting back tears, “For 17 of 21 years, every day, he was so sweet. I always felt his total focus was on me. If anyone wanted anything from him, he would look me in the eye and say, ‘Whatever she wants to do.’” Rogers later moved on to marry Wanda Miller in 1997, whom he had four more kids with. 

Billy Ray Cyrus, another popular country artist, also spoke up about Rogers’ death. “No one bridged the gap between country and pop more often and better than Kenny Rogers. He will be missed, but his music and diverse style of storytelling will live on forever,” Cyrus Said. Rogers’ family said that they are currently planning a private service due to the concern of the COVID-19 international emergency. They assure fans and friends that a more public celebration of his life will be held at a later date.