As the world coughed, strangled by the coronavirus pandemic, Grammy award-winning country music icon Kenny Rogers plucked the air, and, like strings he indelibly changed the world with in a career spanning over 60 years, breathed his last.
Rogers, 81, is no more. According to his family, the legendary singer famed for hits such as Coward of the County, The Gambler, Lucille and Islands in the Stream died of natural causes at his home.
Billed as an all-time great, Rogers infused life into country music and boasted 24 number-one hits, 19 Grammy nominations and walked tall as a six-time Country Music Association winner.
Gifted and charming, the 2013 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee solidified his eclectic persona – focusing on romantic balladry, in works with the likes of Dottie West (Every Time Two Fools Collide), Kim Carnes (Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer), Sheena Easton (We’ve Got Tonight), Lionel Richie (Lady), Lynda Carter (You and Me) and, of course, Dolly Parton in; The Greatest Gift of All, Real Love and You Can’t Make Old Friends among others.
His fabled duets with Parton resulted in what many critics claim are country music’s legacy productions, gems from a golden union that impacted generations for decades.
Their chemistry was undeniable; with their frequent collaborations becoming gold standard for country duet magic, they sparked decades-old rumours that they were an item.
In an interview with the Today Show in 2017, while promoting Roger’s concert as he bid farewell on retiring, Parton put rumours of their ‘special friendship’ after years on the road together, to bed.
According to Rogers, their romance never blossomed.
“I’m a believer that tension is better if you keep it than if you satisfy it. And then secondly, she said no to me,” said Rogers.
To, Parton, however, the Texas native who enjoyed crossover success, was like kin.
“I’m not his type… Nah. You know what, we were almost like brother and sister. And it would almost be like incest. So we just never went there,” she responded.
She added that their friendship was a celebration of who they are: “We’re really good friends. And we’re so much alike. We know the same people. We laugh at the same kind of jokes. I tell jokes and I tell him not to tell that I told the joke.”
They loved and married different people. He wedded five times and was currently married to Wanda Miller.
The two dated for five years prior to tying the knot in 1997 and were blessed with identical twins boys, Jordan and Justin.
Christopher Cody Rogers, Kenny Rogers Jr. and Carole Rogers are from previous relationships.
Parton, on the other hand, has been married to Carl Dean since 1966. The two met in Nashville, Tennessee when Parton was 18-years-old. He was 21.
They have no children of their own