What Kenny Rogers Meant To Me
I learned of Kenny Rogers' passing when I got out of bed early Saturday. So, I made a playlist of just Kenny Rogers songs that I like while I watched interviews with him on YouTube. I grew up with Kenny Rogers and The First Edition records playing in our house as my dad's band covered quite a few of their songs.
I've always said that he was one of the all-time greats at knowing a hit when he ran across one. Most of his hits were written by others, although he did write a few. "Sweet Music Man," he wrote for Waylon Jennings, and it's one of my favorites from him.
I didn't look up how many of his songs went to number one, but I know that he had five of his duets become a number one song, and he did that with five different singing partners: Kim Carnes, Ronnie Milsap, Dottie West, Sheena Easton, and of course, with Dolly Parton on "Islands In The Stream." Some call that the biggest duet in country music history. If it's not number one then it's a very solid number two.
He was a decent actor, award-winning photographer, mansion flipper, owned a recording studio and even had his own golf course built in Georgia.
For me, he is the one who made it possible for artists after him to "cross over" to the pop charts. He was kind of just a small to medium star until 1977 when "Lucille" was released. It was different than anything on the country charts. It was different than anything on the pop charts. Many of us nationwide would argue about whether or not he sings "Four Hungry" or "400" children.
Once he figured out that "story" songs worked, he put out "You Decorated My Life" and the monster, "The Gambler".
But, again, just my opinion. He was the ultimate entertainer. In addition to having a couple of hours of hits that he could sing, he also had a great sense of humor.
I was with him backstage a couple of times and watched how he treated folks. Just as kind and patient as he could be. Gonna miss him.