Kenny Rogers – From Houston Projects To Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers and First Edition singing Don’t Take Your Love to Town in 1972

Kenny Rogers was being interviewed by Dan Rather on The Big Interview, and it gave me a chance to learn more about Kenny Rogers. He told Rather about growing up in Houston in the projects, and that his mother only had a third grade education.

He said he didn’t realize how poor they were, till he started school and realized his family was on another rung.

Dan Rather interviewing Kenny Rogers on The Big Interview

Rogers was born Kenneth Donald “Kenny” Rogers on August 21, 1938, when the president was President Franklin Roosevelt. He had a poor, but happy childhood and his mom told him to be happy where you are, and he remembered that advice during his career.

21 of his songs have reached #1 on the record charts. It was 38 years ago in 1977, when Lucille became his first #1 country hit. Daytime Friends also went to # 1 in 1977. Love or Something Like It went to #1 in 1978, while The Gambler peaked at #2 that year.

Kenny Rogers singing his 1979 hit She Believes In Me

She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life and Coward of the County went to #1 in 1979. The hits kept coming in 1980 with Lady going to #1. Two lesser known songs reached #1 on adult contemporary charts in 1981, but two of his biggest hits Love Will Turn You Around and Through the Years topped the adult contemporary charts in 1982.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Islands in the Stream

1983 would see Rogers have #1 duet hits with Sheena Easton on We’ve Got Tonight and Islands in the Stream with Dolly Parton.

His  #1 hits in 1984 were Rogers singing with Kim Carnes and James Ingram on What About Me. It went to #1 on adult chart, but only to #70 on country chart. Crazy was his other #1 hit in 1984.

Morning Desire was his only song that charted in 1985 and it went to #1. Tomb of the Unknown Love was his only #1 song in 1986. Another duet this time with Ronnie Milsap on Make No Mistake, She’s Mine in 1987 was his last #1 hit in the 80’s.

Kenny Rogers singing Through the Years a great song for a 50th wedding anniversary

12 years would pass, before he had another #1 hit. It was Buy Me a Rose, which was recorded with Allison Krauss and Billy Dean in 1999. His only other #1 songs were with Dottie West on When Two World Collide in 1978 and All I Ever Need is You, which was in 1979.

Starred in The Gambler movies

Kenny Rogers starred in a series of movies about The Gambler. He also appeared in 17 other films and television shows. His last movie was a 2001 movie Longshot. His last television appearance as an actor was in How I Met Your Mother six years ago in 2009.

He made six appearances as himself in 2014 and in five of those shows he sang, or was shown singing in a clip Islands in the Stream.

Five Marriages

He talked about his five marriages and how he may have been too selfish, and was away from home too much, because of his concert schedule. He expressed concern that he might not be around too much longer, for his 10 year old identical twin sons, since he is 76 and will be 77 in August.

His current marriage with Wanda Miller will reach 18 years on June 1. He was previously married to Marianne Gordon of Hee Haw fame for 16 years.

Kenny Rogers being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers showed Dan Rather the Kenny Rogers exhibit, at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and it was an impressive exhibit. He was inducted in 2013 and he seemed to be glad that he wasn’t inducted sooner, when he might not have appreciated it as much as he does now.

He sold 10 million copies of his Greatest Hits album, which earned him the prestigious Diamond Award, for selling 10 million albums.

Rogers is currently on his Through the Years tour and is showing no signs of slowing down. He sure isn’t doing it for the money, since he is reportedly worth $250 million.

TOUR DATES

  • WINCHESTER, VA

  • March 07, 2015 7:00 p.m.
  • Patsy Cline Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • TAMPA, FL

  • March 21, 2015 5:00 p.m.
  • Busch Gardens – Gwazi Field – Food & Wine Festival
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 10, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 11, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LAS CRUCES, NM

  • April 24, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Las Cruces Country Music Festival – Downtown Las Cruces
    Through The Years World Tour
  • CHANDLER, AZ

  • April 25, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino
    Through The Years World Tour
  • ANGOLA, IN

  • May 08, 2015 7:30 p.m.
  • T. Furth Center for Performing Arts – Trine University
    Through The Years World Tour
  • GREELEY, CO

  • June 28, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Greeley Stampede
    With Special Guest Ronnie Milsap
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LANCASTER, PA

  • July 16, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • American Music Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour

 

The Kenny Rogers interview may be repeated on the AXS TV network, so check listings for the times. 

Kenny Rogers: Legendary Singer In Music Business For Seven Decades

Kenny Rogers as he appeared when singing with First Edition.

Kenny Rogers was born August 21, 1938 in Houston, Texas. Rogers is in his sixth decade of being in the music business, starting the mid 50’s with the The Scholars, which was disbanded and Rogers struck out on his own.

Kenny singing That Crazy Feeling in 1958 on Carlton Records singing in the doo-wop style.

Only 194 people have viewed this video of Kenny Rogers at the House of Blues, which apparently was on the Disney Channel sometime in the past. He is seen early in the video singing Walkin’ My Baby Back Home a 1931 song and nothing like a song, you would expect him to sing.  He is shown playing the upright bass in another song at the 14:25 mark in the video.

When he sings When I Fall In Love, one of the girls in the audience rests her head on the shoulder of the man, that she is sitting with, which demonstrates the emotion which Rogers sings with carries over to the listeners. He sings another song from the past, in I Get Along Without You Very Well a 1939 tune, penned by Hoagy Carmichael and demonstrates the gift of Rogers to sing any genre. At 43:53 in the video Rogers sings perhaps the best rendition of I Remember You, that I have ever heard sung.

The video is interspersed with Kenny telling about the highlights of his career. Clips from the past are shown, in addition to him singing at the House of Blues, with the backing of a string orchestra. The video shows Kenny singing Sweet Home Chicago, showing Kenny can sing blues music too. He also sings some of his big hits like Lady and The Gambler. This video is worth watching, because it shows how multi-talented Kenny is and helps bring home the fact, that he may be one of the best singers, to ever walk on a stage.

This is why it is a mystery, why he has never been enshrined in the Country Music or Rock and Roll Hall of Fames. Maybe his crossover hits, prevented him from being defined into either category. One thing for sure is that he is going to sing well, regardless of what genre he is singing at any particular time.

Kenny Rogers seen while part of the Bobby Doyle Trio with Kenny on top, without his beard.

Kenny joined the New Christy Minstrels in 1966, but he left the folk group the next year to form the First Edition.  The group’s best known hits were songs like Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town and my personal favorite Reuben James.

Kenny and the First Edition singing Reuben James.

Ten years later in 1976, Kenny would begin his solo career which is still going strong 36 years later.

1977 would produce his first No.1 hit in Lucille, which would be the first of many No.1 hits. He would have seven No.1 hits when the 1980’s started. Then he recorded his first song to be No.1 in U.S. Country, U.S. and Adult Contemporary, which was Lady and maybe his most popular song recorded and was written by Lionel Richie. 1983’s Islands in the Stream recorded as a duet with Dolly Parton placed first in all three of the categories again.

It has been 26 years since Kenny recorded a non-duet No.1 with his recording of Tomb of Unknown Love in 1986.

The complete Kenny Rogers discography:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Rogers_discography

Kenny recorded many duets and eight of those songs made the Billboard charts.

Kenny singing Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer with Kim Carnes.

Kenny singing Islands In The Stream with Dolly Parton at the 25th anniversary of Dollywood in 2010.

Kenny and Dolly singing the same song a few years earlier.

Kenny and Dottie West singing Everytime Two Fools Collide

Yesterday, I found a Kenny Rogers DVD of his appearance on Live By Request on the CBS television network. I had given it to my wife for her birthday several years, but she had never gotten around to watching it till yesterday and that is why I am writing this article today.

I was surprised to look in my MP3 player and there wasn’t one Kenny Rogers song in the player. I will have to rectify that situation, as soon as possible but I do have a Kenny Rogers LP, which I hope to listen to today.

Any collection of Kenny Rogers hits would need to include Lady and The Gambler.

Kenny singing Lady in the Live By Request  program on CBS television. Viewers called in any Kenny Rogers song they wanted to hear and Kenny would sing it.

Kenny singing one of his classics The Gambler.

Kenny  singing She Believes In Me.

Kenny singing Through The Years at Giants Stadium 26 years ago.

Kenny Rogers is not only a great singer, but is also a talented photographer. This short article shows some of his photography. Kenny is so well-respected in the photography field, that he has been a judge in a Digitial Camera’s Photographer of the Year competition, which is described in this undated article, but appears to have happened in 2011.

http://www.futureplc.com/2011/07/06/kenny-rogers-named-digital-camera%E2%80%99s-photographer-of-the-year-judge/

Kenny Rogers decided to have plastic surgery, when he married his wife Wanda Miller, that is 29 years younger than him. They are still married 15 years later. He has been married for 48 years combined, after five marriages. He has twin sons Justin and Jordan who will be 8 on July 6. His wife is a twin and both he and his wife have a history of twins in their families.

http://inyourface.ocregister.com/2008/10/30/kenny-rogers-regrets-plastic-surgery-but-is-hopeful/1334/

Kenny singing Love Or Something Like It at Bonaroo festival three weeks ago. Sorry for the poor sound quality, but thought readers would want to see Kenny is going strong at 73.

Kenny and Lionel Richie singing Lady after Kenny tells about the history of the song. If you only watch one video in this article this is the one to see. To see two professionals like Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie singing one of the greatest songs ever written, makes taking the time to watch it worth every minute.

No article on Kenny Rogers would be complete without mentioning his movie career. Kenny appeared in the The Gambler TV movies five times from 1980-1994, which again proved how talented Kenny is in any endeavor that he undertakes.

Kenny as he appeared in the series of The Gambler TV movies.

kennyrogers-featured

Not everything Kenny touched turned to gold, even though it may have in the early days, when his Kenny Rogers Roasters expanded to 350 restaurants in 1995. Three years later, the company was bankrupt and sold for $1.25 million. Kenny must have taken a financial bath, for the company to be sold for only $1.25 million. No Kenny Rogers Roasters remain open in the United States today.

The following article gives extensive details about the life of Kenny Rogers, but it may take close to an hour to read the entire article:

http://www.billdeyoung.com/onekenny.html

Kenny sold his home in Georgia on Wednesday of this week:

http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/Kenny-Rogers-home-in-Georgia-sold-for-2-25-million–auction-avoided-Photos/8719446

I knew Kenny Rogers was a successful singer, but only in the last two days have I learned, just how great he was and is still great today.  It is safe to say that Kenny Rogers has made a lasting impression on many Americans, through his music and his acting. I have developed a new appreciation for Kenny Rogers and will be looking for his LP as soon as this is posted.

In closing it amazes me that Kenny Rogers is not in the Country Music Hall of Fame, even though he has had 21 country hits. Part of the problem is that maybe the voters who elect singers to the Country Music Hall of Fame don’t consider Rogers a pure country singer, but just sang songs that found their way to the top of the country charts.

In addition, I can’t see why he isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame either, because if any singer belongs, in both Hall of Fames it would be him. Hopefully he will be inducted to one or the other or both, while he is still with us and can enjoy being inducted, like so many others have in past years.