Longtime legend of country music, Kenny Rogers, died peacefully at his home late Friday and now the music industry‘s biggest stars are reacting to the news with touching tributes to the beloved “Gambler.”
Hours after the news broke, Dolly Parton, one of Rogers’ most notable collaborative partners who toured with the country icon, posted a tearful tribute to her friend.
“Well, I couldn’t believe it this morning when I got up, turned on the TV checking to see what the coronavirus was doing, and they told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away,” Parton said in a video filmed inside her home.
“And I know that we all know Kenny is in a better place than we are today but I’m for sure he’s going to be talking to God sometime today, if ain’t already, and he’s going to be asking him to spread some light on this darkness going on here. But I loved Kenny with all my heart. My heart’s broken. A big ol’ chunk of it has gone with him today and I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends and fans, when I say that I will always love him.”
Parton then showed off a framed photograph she had inside of her home of her and Kenny.
“I just happened to have this picture when I woke up this morning of us,” Parton said as she broke into tears. “I walked out and thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll hold that up for everybody,’ so I know you’re sad as I am but God bless you Kenny. Fly high, straight into the arms of God. And to the rest of you, keep the faith.”
Singers/Songwriters Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers back in 2010
Blake Shelton took to his Twitter to react to Rogers’ passing, noting that country music’s loss was far too great to put into words.
“I can’t express on twitter the impact Kenny Rogers the artist the man had on me. He was always very kind and fun to be around. Rest In Peace Gambler…,” Shelton wrote.
Rising singer-songwriter Parker McCollum, a native of Texas, referred to Rogers as an “absolute legend” in a tweet.
“RIP to an absolute legend and a Crockett, TX native…Kenny Rogers! Wow!” the 27-year-old wrote on the social media platform.
Country music star and Fox Nation host John Rich shared his personal memories with the “Gambler” crooner on Friday morning, along with a throwback black and white photo of the pair.
“I had the huge honor of producing songs with this American Giant. He was kind, funny, and one of the greatest purveyors of a lyric in the history of music. The world will miss you forever. Thank you for the decades of incredible music! You define a generation. #RIPKennyRogers,” Rich tweeted.
Longtime country artist Charlie Daniels, 83, took to Twitter to pay tribute to the “Lucille” crooner as he woke up to the news.
“Thank you Kenny Rogers for being a part of our lives for so long. Your songs are woven into the fabric of our memories, classics, that will live on in the musical heart of a world that will miss you so much,” Daniels tweeted. “Rest in peace Gambler.”
Founding member of the country trio Lady Antebellum, Charles Kelley, recalled opening up for the country legend years ago.
“What a great man. You will be missed #kennyrogers. This was from 2009 when @ladyantebellum got the opportunity to open up a show in Switzerland for Kenny,” he wrote underneath a photo of the band with their arms around Rogers. “He really opened the door for us and touring internationally.”
Oak Ridge Boys member Joe Bonsall was in disbelief as he shared with his followers the moment he learned of Rogers’ passing.
“Asleep … when Mary yells ‘Oh Joseph … Kenny Rogers died,'” the tenor wrote on Twitter. “I am a man of words but right now I have none … I am stunned and heartbroken … I loved this man … #RestinpeaceKennyrogers #SweetMusicMan.”
“High Cost of Living” singer Jamey Johnson credited the “Gambler” for leaving a mark on his childhood.
“So many songs you sang painted the canvas of my musical youth. Thank you for dedicating your life to enriching the lives of people like me with your gift. Rest well Sweet Music Man @_kennyrogers,” Johnson wrote on Instagram.
Rogers, whose music spanned over six decades, died at his home at 10:25 p.m. on Friday, his family revealed in a statement.
The superstar’s 1977 hit “Lucille” catapulted his solo career and he went on to release “The Gambler” in 1978, which later developed into a series of television movies which he starred in.
One of his biggest hits was “Lady,” written by Lionel Richie, was a chart topper for six weeks straight in 1980. Other hits included “You Decorated My Life,” “Every Time Two Fools Collide” with Dottie West, “Don’t Fall In Love with a Dreamer” with Kim Carnes, and “Coward of the County.”
Country music star Kenny Rogers gives his acceptance speech at the ceremony for the 2013 inductions into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013.
(The Associated Press)
Rogers and Parton toured together, leading to an HBO concert special. In 2013, the singers released “You Can’t Make Old Friends. That same year, Rogers was a winner of the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
He received a total of 10 awards from the Academy of Country Music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Rogers sold more than 47 million records in the United States alone.
The family is planning a private service “out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency,” a statement posted early Saturday read. A public memorial will be held at a later date.