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Curtains go down on the ‘Gambler’ – Kenny Rogers

By Elly Gitau
Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Kenny Rogers.

Elly Gitau and Agencies

Country music lovers continue to mourn the death of one of the genre’s biggest acts in Kenny Rogers.

The music icon—who dominated the pop and country charts in the 1970s and 1980s with a string of sleekly tailored hits and won three Grammys—passed away aged 81 on Friday under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, in the US, a representative for the singer said in a statement.

Speaking to Spice on phone, Kenyan musician Suzanna Owiyo said that it was artistes such as Rogers and other Country musicians that helped her hone her imperious skills on the guitar.

“On Friday, I woke up to the sad news of Kenny Rogers passing on. The world and music industry at large has lost a legend.

My dad was a great fan of his music. I remember listening to Country music courtesy of my dad when I was growing up.

To some extent I got glued to this genre because it helped shape my guitar picking. I celebrate him. His legacy lives on,” said Suzanna.

Rogers had announced a farewell tour in 2015 and was able to keep it going through December 2017.

In April 2018, shortly before he was to spend a few months finishing out the tour after a break, he announced that he was having to call off the remaining dates due to unspecified “health challenges.”

Best of darlings: Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

“I didn’t want to take forever to retire. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to say farewell to the fans over the course of the past two years on ‘The Gambler’s Last Deal’ tour.

I could never properly thank them for the encouragement and support they’ve given me throughout my career and the happiness I’ve experienced as a result of that,” the Gambler hitmaker said in a statement in April 2018.

Among the world’s greatest

Known with hits such as Coward of the County, Lucille, Write Your Name, Evening Star and Daytime Friends, Rogers is revered as one of the world’s greatest musicians of all time.

His appealing, sometimes gritty voice propelled 20 solo 45s to No. 1 on the country charts from 1977-87.

Two of them (his 1980 cover of Lionel Richie’s Lady and the 1983 collaboration with Dolly Parton Islands in the Stream) also topped the pop lists.

He worked profitably with a number of other female vocalists, including Dottie West, Sheena Easton, Kim Carnes and Anne Murray.

Aurlus Mabele.

The Gambler was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2018, making it one of the most recent of a lifetime of honours bestowed on the singer.

Others included the induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (2013), three Grammy Awards (1977, 1979, 1988) and six Country Music Association Awards (1979).

“I hope my fans understand that I’m a father first and a singer second,” he said about his planned retirement from touring in a 2016 interview with CMT.com, mentioning at that time that he had 11-year-old twin boys with his wife Wanda Miller. Married five times, Rogers is survived by his last wife Wanda and five children.

Another icon bows down

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the music world was thrown into mourning following the demise of Soukous legend Aurlus Mabele.

The Congolese musician died in hospital in Paris, aged 67. Unconfirmed reports said he had died of the coronavirus disease, His daughter, singer Liza Monet, tweeted saying her father had died of Covid-19. 

“I am inconsolable,” she wrote. Mabele’s hits include Embargo, Evelyne and Rosine.