Country music legend Kenny Rogers died on March 20 at the age of 81. His death was confirmed by his publicist Keith Hagan on CNN.
The artist’s family also announced his passing, saying he died Friday night (March 20) 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,” said a statement posted by Hagan.
Rogers, an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, had 24 No. 1 hits and sold more than 50 million albums sold in the US alone in a six decade career. He was also a six-time Country Music Awards winner and three-time Grammy Award winner. His hits included ‘Lady,’ ‘Lucille,’ The Gambler’ (inspired multiple TV movies, with Rogers as the main character) and ‘islands In The Steam,’ his No.1 hit duet with Dolly Parton.
The Country Music Association released a statement saying that “Country Music has lost the great Kenny Rogers, who has forever left a mark on Country Music’s history. His family and friends are in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
Rogers announced a farewell tour in 2015 and did concerts through to December 2017. But in April 2018, shortly before some more scheduled dates, he announced that he was calling off the remaining dates due to unspecified ‘health challenges.’
“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 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.”
Rogers’ family plans 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.”
Tributes to Rogers include one from his long-time friend Dolly Parton who said, “You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. In a video posted along with the message, a visibly emotional Parton held a picture of herself with Rogers saying, “I know you are as sad as I am. But God bless you Kenny, fly high in to the arms of God.”