• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Grammy winning Singer, actor Kenny Rogers dies at 81


Actor-singer Kenny Rogers, the smooth, Grammy-winning balladeer who spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as Lucille, Lady and Islands in the Stream and embraced his personal as The Gambler  on record and on TV died Friday night.

He was 81. He died at home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, representative Keith Hagan told The Associated Press.

He was under hospice care and died of natural causes, Hagan said.

The Houston-born performer with the husky voice and silver beard sold tens of millions of records, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, making him a superstar in the 70s and 80s.

Rogers thrived for some 60 years before retired from touring in 2017 at age 79.

Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country 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 want to invite comparison, Rogers told The Associated Press in 2015.

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 did invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.

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

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.