Country music legend, occasional actor, and roasted chicken purveyor, Kenneth Ray Rogers passed away this weekend. To non-country music fans, Rogers is probably best known for a slew of top 10 hits and duets with the likes of Dolly Parton, Sheena Easton and Kim Carnes. To country music fans, Kenny Rogers’ songs are iconic, but truth be told, the singer saw success in just about every form of entertainment.
In honor of one of the longest and most varied careers in showbiz history, I thought I’d take a moment to recognize some of his most memorable recordings.
Incidentally last year’s Watchmen used the Rogers/Parton duet Islands in the Stream (the title cribbed from a posthumous Hemingway novel) to some effect:
In the realm of film, Kenny enjoyed considerable success with no less than five Gambler TV movies, based on his 1978 hit of the same name, rather more popular than the recent dire Netflix anthology series Heartstrings, which used some of his pal Dolly’s hits as basis for the stories.
Rogers also re-tooled his 1979 hit Coward of the County as a TV movie.
The Coen Brothers’ Big Lebowksi gave a second life to Kenny’s pre-country 1967 hit (as leader of the First Edition) ‘Just Stepped In (to see what Condition My Condition Was In):
Roger’s Roasters fried chicken chain was memorably spoofed in Seinfeld‘s ‘The Chicken Roaster’ episode and the man was happy to make fun of himself in shows including Conan O’Brien and Reno 911:
So, farewell then Kenny Rogers:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers) 1978
My personal favourite? this early 1968 hit with the First Edition about a paralyzed Vietnam veteran with a wife who needs some lovin’ outside the matrimonial bed.And he sure ain’t happy about it: