Kenny Rogers, whose legendary music career spanned six decades, has died at the age of 81. The artist’s family announced his passing, saying he died from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by family. “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,” read a statement posted by his publicist Keith Hagan. Rogers’ family planned a small, private service out of concern for the coronavirus pandemic, “but look forward to celebrating the life of Kenny Rogers publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” his publicist’s statement said. Tributes to the country singer poured in from fans and musical artists.
Rogers was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, for what organization officials called a “distinctive, husky voice.” He had 24 No. 1 hits and through his career more than 50 million albums sold in the US alone. He wasalso a six-time Country Music Awards winner and three-time Grammy Award winner.
Some of his hits included “Lady,” “Lucille,” “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Through the Years.” His 1978 song “The Gambler” inspired multiple TV movies, with Rogers as the main character. In 1985, he participated in the original recording of “We Are the World” along with more than three dozen artists. A year later, according to his website, he co-chaired “Hands Across America,” a campaign which sought to raise awareness about the homeless and hungry in the US.
He announced his retirement in 2015. “I’ve been so lucky to have enjoyed such a long career and to have such amazing support from my fans and all who have helped me along the way, but there comes a time when I need to focus on spending time with my family,” he had said. “My life is about my wife and my 11-year-old twin boys right now. There are a lot of things I want to do together with them to create some special memories. I don’t have a bucket list of my own … I have a bucket list of things I want to do with them.”