Kenny Rogers (August 21, 1938 - March 20, 2020) was a highly acclaimed country/soft rock singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, TV and movie actor, record producer, and entrepreneur with a career spanning six decades. He first became famous during the late 1960s as a pop/rock artist along with his band, The First Edition, with a gradual transition to country rock. He began recording solo in 1976 and soon after became a country music superstar.
Born Kenneth Ray Rogers in Houston Texas, he formed his first band in 1956 while still in high school, a doo-wop group known as the Scholars, and had a minor solo hit the following year with the romantic doo-wop styled ballad, "That Crazy Feeling" (billed as Kenneth Rogers). He then played bass as a member of The Bobby Doyle Three, a jazz group that recorded for Columbia Records. In 1966, Rogers joined The New Christy Minstrels, serving as a singer and double bass player. The following year, he and fellow band mates Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho left the group to form The First Edition, a rock and roll band that also covered R&B, folk music, psychedelic pop, and country pop/rock. Other original members included Mickey Jones, and there were a number of personnel changes along the way. Later renamed Kenny Rogers And The First Edition, the band went on to record a string of top hits and many albums before disbanding in 1976.
The First Edition made its national debut in 1967 on the Pop/Rock charts with "I Found A Reason," which became a minor hit. This was followed by "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (1968), a psychedelic pop song with a cautionary message about the dangers of using LSD that reached the Top 5. The band's long string of hits, which continued through the early 1970s, also included such country rockers as "But You Know I Love You" (1969), "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" (1969), "Ruben James" (1969, a.k.a. "Reuben James"), "Something's Burning" (1970), "Heed The Call" (1970), and the gospel-infused "Tell It All Brother" (1970).
Rogers made his second solo debut after almost 20 years with "Love Lifted Me" (1976) which was followed shortly thereafter by his breakthrough song, the Grammy award-winning "Lucille" (1977), which topped the Country charts and became a Top 10 hit on both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts. Numerous top hits followed on all three major charts that also included such country and soft rock classics as "She Believes In Me" (1979), "You Decorated My Life" (1979), "Coward Of The County" (1979), "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" (1980, with Kim Carnes), "Lady" (1980), "I Don't Need You" (1981), "We've Got Tonight" (1983, with Sheena Easton), and "Islands In The Stream" (1983, with Dolly Parton). His long run of hits, which continued on the Country charts into the 21st century, also included such chart-toppers as "Crazy" (1984), "Real Love" (1985, with Dolly Parton), "Morning Desire" (1985), "Tomb Of The Unknown Love" (1986), and the Grammy award-winning "Make No Mistake, She's Mine" (1987, with Ronnie Milsap).
Rogers' numerous honors and accolades included multiple AMAs, ACMs, and CMAs, several Grammys, a CMA Lifetime Achievement Award (2013), and being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (2013). He launched his farewell tour in 2015 and gave his final performance on October 25, 2017 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
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The First Edition
- But You Know I Love You 1969
(This song later also became a hit for Dolly Parton (1981).)
- Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) 1968
Kenny Rogers And The First Edition
- Heed The Call 1970
- Ruben James 1969
- Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town 1969
- Something's Burning 1970
- Tell It All Brother 1970
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