Country legend Kenny Rogers dies of natural causes at age 81

Courtesy+of+Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Amanda Salazar

A whole host of celebrities have expressed their condolences for Rogers’ family, including iconic country singer Dolly Parton and one of Rogers’ close friends, Lionel Richie.

“You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” Parton wrote on Twitter. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”

Rogers sold more than 50 million albums in the United States throughout his career and had 21 No. 1 hits.

He was a three-time Grammy winner and a six-time Country Music Awards winner, and he was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. He was inducted for his “distinctive, husky voice, according to an article from CNN.

The singer also won eight Academy of Country Music awards.

“Country Music has lost the great Kenny Rogers, who has forever left a mark on Country Music’s history,” the Country Music Association wrote in a statement. “His family and friends are in our thoughts during this difficult time.”

Rogers was possibly best known for his 1978 song, “The Gambler,” about a man who meets an old gambler on a train. The man strikes up a conversation with the gambler about a card that mirrors life.

Rogers himself played the gambler in various movies and commercials inspired by the song, including one for Geico as part of its ‘Did you know?” series, where Rogers is playing cards with some other men and won’t stop singing the song “The Gambler.”

His other hits include “Lady,” “Lucille,” “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Through the Years.”

Rogers also was one of around three dozen artists that collaborated to record the original version of “We are the World” in 1985.

“Today I lost one of my closest friends. So much laughter so many adventures to remember, my heart is broken… My prayers go out to Kenny’s Family,” Richie said of Rogers in a post he put up on Twitter.

Rogers was also interested in philanthropy, as he co-chaired the “Hands Across America” campaign in 1986 to help raise awareness about homelessness and hunger.

Rogers was born on Aug. 21, 1983 in Houston, Texas as the fourth of eight children. They were raised in the Sa. Felipe Court, a public housing facility in Houston’s Fourth Ward, according to an article from Rolling Stone.

He learned to play guitar and sing at a young age and went on to create a music group at his high school, Jefferson Davis High School, called the Scholars.

Rogers recorded solos, collaborated with other artists and played gigs until he was able to start making a name for himself.

In 1975, he was signed to United Artists Records where he recorded his first long-play album, Love Lifted Me, and then some of his more popular music in 1977.

Rogers leaves behind a wife, four ex-wives and five children, including his eldest son, who was uniquely named Kenny Rogers, Jr. His youngest children are his 15-year old twin sons, Jordan Edward Rogers and Justin Charles Rogers.

The family will be holding a small, private service for Rogers in light of the coronavirus, but his loved ones hope to be able to remember Rogers more publicly with his fans at a later date.