Country musician Kenny Rogers has died at the age of 81, as CNN reports and his publicist Keith Hagan confirmed in a press release. The legendary singer-songwriter whose career spanned nearly six decades died on Friday, March 20, from natural causes. In 2018, Rogers was forced to cancel the remaining dates of his farewell tour, The Gambler’s Last Deal, on the advice of his doctors. He’d been dealing with “a series of health challenges,” according to a press release. Over the course of his career, Rogers became one of the best-selling country artists of all time, earning Grammys, American Country of Music Awards, Country of Music Awards, and more. In 2013, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Rogers was born in Houston, Texas, in 1938. He gained his start in the jazz group the Bobby Doyle Three, and bounced around to two other groups—the New Christy Minstrels and the First Edition—before concentrating on a solo career. He released his debut studio album Love Lifted Me in 1976, and followed it with a steady output, including his two biggest albums: 1978’s The Gambler and 1979’s Kenny.
Throughout the ’80s, Rogers released a string of solo albums and duets with stars like Lynda Carter, Kim Carnes, and Dolly Parton. The latter worked with Rogers on “Islands in the Stream,” which appeared on his 1983 Barry Gibb–produced album Eyes That See in the Dark. Rogers continued releasing numerous albums throughout the ’90s and aughts. His last, You Can’t Make Old Friends, came out in 2013. He once again partnered with Parton on the title track, and their performance was nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 56th Annual Grammys. In 2015, he announced his farewell tour.
Beyond music, Rogers has appeared in numerous films and TV programs, including the made-for-TV movie The Gambler, which was based on his famous song. He even opened a string of chicken restaurants called Kenny Rogers Roasters. The chain was immortalized in a Seinfeld episode titled “The Chicken Roaster” in which Kramer couldn’t sleep because of its bright signage.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork