Country icon Kenny Rogers dies of natural causes, 81, family planning private service amid pandemic | Daily Mail Online

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Country music icon Kenny Rogers has died aged 81 at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, his family confirmed.

‘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,’ a statement said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the family is planning to have a small private service at this time with a public memorial at a later date. 

The husky-voiced balladeer retired from touring in 2017 after a 60-year career spanning jazz, folk, country and pop, with hits like, The Gambler, Lucille, and Lady. 

Country music icon Kenny Rogers (pictured) has died aged 81, his family confirmed

Announcement: This was posted on Rogers’ official Twitter account late Friday night

Kenny, who has wed five times, is currently married to Wanda Miller. The pair tied-the-knot in 1997 and have remained together since. 

The singer and 52-year-old beauty are parents to 14-year-old identical twin sons, Jordan and Justin.  

Also the father to three other children, Kenny revealed in 2014 that initially when he began dating Wanda, her parents did not approve.

Family: The singer and 52-year-old beauty are parents to 14-year-old identical twin sons, Jordan and Justin

‘Her parents are two years younger than me,’ he exclaimed to Fox News

‘They called me when we started dating and said, “We want you to know we didn’t appreciate what you’re doing with our daughter,” and I said, “First of all I don’t blame you. I don’t think I would either but I will make you a promise. I will never lie to her and I will never lie to you.”‘  

Kenny is also the father to Carole, 60, Kenny Jr., 55, Christopher Cody, 37. 

Sticking together! Kenny is also the father to Carole, 60, Kenny Jr., 55, Christopher Cody, 37

Dynamic duo: Rogers pictured with wife Wanda in Melbourne, Australia back in January 2011

He enjoyed an incredible career which spanned 60 years as he sold tens of millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on The Gamble” and other songs, making him a superstar in the `70s and ´80s.

Rogers thrived as his career began in 1957 before he retired from touring in 2017 at age 79. Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.

 A true rags-to-riches story, Rogers was raised in public housing in Houston Heights with seven siblings. 

Legend: Rogers – pictured left to right: Irlene Mandrell Louise Mandrell and Barbara Mandrell in 1980 – with thrived as his career began in 1957 before he retired from touring in 2017 at age 79

Talented: Rogers seen with his band The First Edition on Lift Off in 1970

As a 20-year-old, he had a gold single called That Crazy Feeling, under the name Kenneth Rogers, but when that early success stalled, he joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass player.

But his breakthrough came when he was asked to join the New Christy Minstrels, a folk group, in 1966. 

The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic song, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). 

Rogers and First Edition mixed country-rock and folk on songs like Ruby, Don´t Take Your Love To Town, a story of a Vietnam veteran begging his girlfriend to stay.

Legends: Over the years, Rogers worked often with female duet partners, most memorably, Dolly Parton, as they are seen together in 1983

Longtime partnership: The two singers toured together, including in Australia and New Zealand in 1984 and 1987, and were featured in a HBO concert special, as they are seen together in August 1988

After the group broke up in 1974, Rogers started his solo career and found a big hit with the sad country ballad Lucille, in 1977, which crossed over to the pop charts and earned Rogers his first Grammy. 

Suddenly the star, Rogers added hit after hit for more than a decade.

The Gambler, the Grammy-winning story song penned by Don Schlitz, came out in 1978 and became his signature song with a signature refrain: ‘You gotta know when to hold `em, know when to fold ´em.’ 

The song spawned a hit TV movie of the same name and several more sequels featuring Rogers as professional gambler Brady Hawkes, and led to a lengthy side career for Rogers as a TV actor and host of several TV specials.

Multi-talented: Rogers had quite the career as he starred in TV film Rio Diablo in 1993

 Over the years, Rogers worked often with female duet partners, most memorably, Dolly Parton. 

The two were paired at the suggestion of the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, who wrote Islands in the Stream.

The two singers toured together, including in Australia and New Zealand in 1984 and 1987, and were featured in a HBO concert special. 

Over the years the two would continue to record together, including their last duet, You Can´t Make Old Friends, which was released in 2013. 

Parton reprised Islands in the Stream with Rogers during his all-star retirement concert held in Nashville in October 2017.

Rogers invested his time and money in a lot of other endeavors over his career, including a passion for photography that led to several books, as well as an autobiography, Making It With Music. 

Businessman: Rogers (seen in July 2016)  invested his time and money in a lot of other endeavors over his career, including a passion for photography that led to several books, as well as an autobiography, Making It With Music

He had a chain of restaurants called Kenny Rogers Roasters, and was a partner behind a riverboat in Branson, Missouri. 

He was also involved in numerous charitable causes, among them the Red Cross and MusicCares, and was part of the all-star We are the World recording for famine relief.

By the ’90s, his ability to chart hits had waned, although he still remained a popular live entertainer with regular touring. Still he was an inventive businessman and never stopped trying to find his way back onto the charts.

Retirement: Rogers pictured at SiriusXM in Nashville back in June 2017 around the time of the end of his career on stage after 60 years

At the age of 61, Rogers had a brief comeback on the country charts in 2000 with a hit song Buy Me A Rose, thanks to his other favorite medium, television. 

Producers of the series Touched By An Angel wanted him to appear in an episode, and one of his managers suggested the episode be based on his latest single. 

That cross-promotional event earned him his first No. 1 country song in 13 years.

Married five times, Rogers is survived by his last wife Wanda and five children.

Lots of love: Rogers pictured with wife Wanda Miller at the Country Music Awards in LA in May 2001

This content was originally published here.

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