Lionel Richie pays emotional tribute to late friend Kenny Rogers: ‘I lost one of my closest friends’

23 March 2020, 11:05 | Updated: 23 March 2020, 11:43

Lionel Richie pays emotional tribute to late friend Kenny Rogers: ‘I lost one of my closest friends’
Lionel Richie pays emotional tribute to late friend Kenny Rogers: ‘I lost one of my closest friends’. Picture: Getty

By Rory O'Connor

Lionel Richie has paid an emotional tribute to his late-friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers, after the singer passed away at the weekend aged 81.

Lionel shared a heartfelt message, along with a collection of touching photos of the pair together over the years.

Taking to his Instagram, 70-year-old Lionel wrote: “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.”

Lionel wrote Kenny’s hit single ‘Lady’ in 1980, and the pair remained close friends ever since.

Read more: 8 fascinating facts about Kenny Rogers

Country star Kenny also told his fans how Lionel had a huge impact on his career by working on that song with him.

He explained: “He’s not just a friend of mine, but the song he wrote was truly a changing point in my career. It’s one of the most identifiable songs I’ve ever done.”

A family representative announced on Saturday that Kenny passed away peacefully at home from natural causes on Friday night.

The statement read: "The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25pm at the age of 81.

"Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family."

The statement continued: "In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world.

"Chart-topping hits like 'The Gambler,' 'Lady,' 'Islands In The Stream,' 'Lucille,' 'She Believes In Me,' and 'Through the Years' are just a handful of Kenny Rogers' songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans alike.

Read more: The Story of... 'Islands in the Stream' by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

"Rogers, with twenty-four number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time GRAMMY Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and has been voted the 'Favourite Singer of All Time' in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.

Lionel Richie with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
Lionel Richie with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Picture: Getty

"The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency.

"They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date."

Dolly Parton also paid tribute to her friend in a teary video shared on her social media.

Devastated by the news, 74-year-old Dolly said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got up this morning and turned on the TV, checking to see what the coronavirus was doing, and it told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away.

“And I know that we all know Kenny’s in a better place than we are today, but I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be talking to God sometime today if he ain’t already, he’s gonna be asking him to spread some light on bunch of this darkness going here.

Read more: The 7 best Kenny Rogers songs ever

“But I love Kenny with all my heart. My heart’s broken and a big old chunk of it has gone with him today. ‘And I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends and fans when I say that I will always love you. God bless you, Kenny, fly high. Straight to the arms of God and to the rest of you, keep the faith.”