8 fascinating facts about Kenny Rogers

10 September 2020, 16:16

Kenny Rogers
Picture: PA

By Tom Eames

Kenny Rogers is one of country music's biggest icons.

From his time with First Edition to his hugely successful solo work, he was a legendary artist with a career spanning several decades.

Here are all the big and interesting facts about the 'Gambler' singer:

  1. Kenny Rogers songs: What were his biggest tracks?

    Read more: The 7 best Kenny Rogers songs ever

    Selling over 100 million records worldwide, Kenny Rogers was one of the best-selling artists of all time.

    Among his most famous hits are 'The Gambler', 'Lady', 'Islands in the Stream' (with Dolly Parton), and 'Lucille'.

  2. Kenny Rogers age: How old was he?

    Kenny Rogers was born on August 21, 1938.

    He was born the fourth of eight children in Houston, Texas. His parents were Lucille Lois (née Hester; 1910–1991), a nurse's assistant, and Edward Floyd Rogers (1904–1975), a carpenter.

    He was of Irish and Native American ancestry.

    Kenny passed away on March 20, 2020, aged 81.

  3. Kenny Rogers family: Who was his wife and how many children did he have?

    Kenny Rogers with wife Wanda and twin boys Justin and Jordan
    Kenny Rogers with wife Wanda and twin boys Justin and Jordan. Picture: Getty

    Kenny Rogers was married five times and had five children in total.

    His first wife was Janice Gordon, and they were married from 1958 to 1960. They had one child together: daughter Carole.

    He married Jean Rogers later that year, but they divorced in 1963.

    A year later, he married Margo Anderson, and they one child, a boy named Kennedy. They divorced in 1976.

    In 1977, he married actress Marianne Gordon, and they also had one child in 1982: Christopher. They stayed married until their divorce in 1993.

    Kenny's wife at the time of his death was Wanda Miller, who was 28 years younger than the singer. They married in 1997, and welcomed twin boys Justin and Jordan in 2004.

  4. Who were The First Edition?

    After his earlier group The Minstrels were not proving successful, Kenny and fellow members Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho left the group, and formed The First Edition in 1967 (later renamed Kenny Rogers and The First Edition).

    They had a rock and roll/country sound, and had several hits including 'But You Know I Love You' and 'Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town'.

    The group split in 1976, and Kenny launched a solo career. It was here that he developed a more middle-of-the-road sound that proved far more successful.

  5. When did Kenny Rogers retire?

    In 2015, Kenny announced his farewell tour, titled The Gambler's Last Deal. He said that it was his intention to retire from touring at its completion, though he was considering recording another studio album.

    On April 5, 2018, it was announced that Kenny had to cancel his remaining tour as advised by doctors, due to a series of health difficulties.

    His final concert in Nashville took place on October 25, 2017 at the Bridgestone Arena, where he was joined by many artists including Little Big Town, Lionel Richie, The Flaming Lips, Travis Tritt, The Judds, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum, Idina Menzel, Reba McEntire and Jamey Johnson.

    The concert also included a special appearance by his long-time friend Dolly Parton, who performed 'You Can't Make Old Friends' and 'Islands in the Stream' with Rogers for the final time.

  6. What films and TV shows did Kenny Rogers act in?

    Kenny Rogers starred in the 1982 movie Six Pack, as a race-car driver, and it was a moderate hit at the US box office.

    He also starred in made-for-TV movies such as The Gambler series, Christmas in America, and Coward of the County (based on his hit song).

    He was also the host and narrator for the A&E historical series The Real West, and made guest appearances in The Muppets.

  7. Did Kenny Rogers have a goat?

    Yes!

    At his home in Colbert, Georgia, Kenny had a pet goat named Smitty. He acquired the animal from a friend back in 2008.

    According to Kenny, the goat has been "(his) centre", giving him a calming influence after long and stressful touring schedules.

  8. Was Kenny Rogers a tennis player?

    “I played tennis for 10 years, eight hours a day every day and developed a national ranking while I was on the road playing with Wimbledon champs,” Kenny once told Rolling Stone.

    Kenny Rogers was actually a professional-level tennis player, and often looked out for courts at every tour stop for many years.

    "I developed a national ranking while I was on the road playing with Wimbledon champions," he added.

    This is true, as Kenny even had his own ATP Tennis page listing.