Saturday, March 21, 2020

Kenny Rogers Left His Mark On Country Music

"Kenny Rogers' songs endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world," read the statement announcing the singers' death Friday night at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, where he died from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by family.

He was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with hits like "Lucille," "The Gambler" and "Lady." He scored several hits, including eight #1 records with duet partners like Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton. He was particularly fond of singing the harmony part on the duets. In 2013, he told interviewer Dan Rather that harmonies had fascinated him ever since he first heard his older sister, Geraldine, singing them in church. He said, “I’d never heard harmony before." When he asked her what she was doing, she replied "it's called harmony, where you don’t sing the melody, but you sing something that sounds good with the melody," to which Kenny replied "Oh, I’d like to do that."

I played his songs on the radio quite often. His distinctive, husky voice was filled with warmth and sincerity and it attracted you to him. He showed us what he had at the very beginning of his long stretch of hits when he sang, "You've painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair," the opening line of the 1967 hit, "Ruby," by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.

Even though his songs crossed music genres many times, he always wanted to be thought of as a country music singer. “You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison and I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them." And, he did it very well. A CMA spokesperson tweeted that Rogers forever left a mark on Country Music's history.

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