Nobody was as shocked in 2013 as when Kenny Rogers was asked to play at the Glastonbury Festival, decades after he last dominated the music charts. “I am sure that all the parents of these children played my music for them while they were young,” he told Alexis Petridis of The Guardian. “I consider that to be child abuse.”
Rogers‘ set nevertheless attracted thousands of festival goers despite his self-deprecation. Thousands met once more for the 2017 final of Rogers, a farewell and tribute series entitled All In With The Gambler in Nashville. A&E Biography compiled excerpts from the show since his passing away in March 2020 at the age of 81 to pay loving homage to the late music legend, exposing the rough fights behind the long career of the traveller.
Kenny Rogers’s life
In the 1950s, Rogers’ path towards stardom began with several false beginnings. Dabbling in doo wop, jazz and folk before forming The First Edition in 1967. His early genre-hopping proved a strength for the similarly experimental band. Particularly on their second single ‘Just Fell In (To See What State My State Was In)’ psychedelic-blast. Unfortunately, the single proved to be an early peak and the rest of the band’s run was spent looking for a style that would fit, try rock, folk and even a country rock opera but fail to repeat their success.
First Edition’s disbandment took Rogers back into the wilderness and feeling that his long fought-for career was all but over. Dejected, he transferred to Nashville looking for a rebirth. When he met Larry Butler, a record producer who thought the singer could draw a country crowd. Relief poured in and worked hard to support him.
Butler proposed a song he thought was suitable for Kenny Rogers. After two unsuccessful solo singles: ‘Lucille.’ Though Rogers considered it to be a great country album. The record executives saw it as “too country.” Butler however persisted in persuading Rogers. As he recounts in the special: “I think you need to do this is an important song. Because it will show your audience that you are serious about country music.” As Butler foresaw. ‘Lucille’ hit the top of the country charts and the top 10 of the US Hot 100. Bringing Kenny Rogers back to the spotlight and finding him a country music home for him.