Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Country music legend Kenny Rogers dies, aged 81

The singer had a career that spanned six decades and spawned 24 number-one hits

Country music legend Kenny Rogers has died, aged 81.

He died at home of "natural causes" at 10.25pm on Friday night (EDT time).

His family announced that he was "under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family".

The family said they are planning a small private service, rather than a large gathering, due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. They will plan a larger celebration for both his fans and his friends at a later date.

The star, who was born in Texas but latterly called Georgia home, had a career that spanned six decades. His chart-topping hits included Islands in the Stream, The Gambler, Lady, Lucille and She Believes in Magic.

He had a total of 24 number-one hits, and won the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Born in August, 1938, Rogers began his career in ensembles – most notably The First Edition – becoming a solo artist in 1976.

While he was most renowned in the country music industry, he really was a crossover star, with plenty of pop, easy listening and soft rock songs to his name.

1978's The Gambler was the defining solo song of his career. In 2018, it was selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry of the United States for its cultural and artistic significance.

Rogers's work ethic was enduring too: he only retired from the music business in 2017, aged 78.

Rogers, who was of both Irish and Native American heritage, was one of eight children: his memoir, released in 2012, detailed a tough childhood in depression-era Texas. He told interviewers throughout his career that his mother taught him to be content with his lot, and to be happy with what he had.

"So even in the down parts of my career, I’d have to stop and say, ‘Hey, I’m still making music. This is all I ever set out to do. Everything else is a bonus,'" he told The Boot of how that advice helped him throughout his long career.

Rogers was married five times, and famously said that "music was his mistress".

"When I became driven and selfish I was so intent to follow my life that it cost me. I was gone so much from some of my marriages that there was a disconnect," he told Reuters in 2012.

But he was married to his wife Wanda for 23 years:

"She is my soul mate," he told Reuters in 2012. "She knows me better than anyone else has known me. She loves what I do and I’m not as insensitive to her needs as I may have been in the past.”

The couple shared this video of the family on Thanksgiving last November:

Updated: March 21, 2020 11:36 AM

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