A Timeline of Kenny Rogers’ Music Career, Failed Marriages and Eventual Death

Kenny Rogers was an American singer, songwriter, and actor who lived from August 21, 1938 to March 20, 2020. He is best remembered as one of the most successful country singers to have ever lived.

Apparently, you cannot talk about the history and development of country music without mentioning the name of Kenny Rogers in your speech. Blessed with a velvety smooth voice which is renowned for its raspy resonance, the singer was counted among the most successful country singers the world has ever known.

He made quite a lot of impact, breaking through in different countries with his music and achieving worldwide recognition with his body of work.

During his career that lasted for a whopping six decades, the Texas native managed to sell millions of copies of his albums and was regarded as one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Even though he is now dead, Rogers who was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame still continues to command authority in the country music world with Grammy Award-winning songs like The Gambler and Lucille that have already stood and will surely continue to stand the test of time.

Summary of Kenny Rogers’ Biography

  • Full name: Kenneth Donald Rogers
  • Nickname: Kenny, The Gambler
  • Gender: Male
  • Date of Birth: August 21, 1938
  • Place of Birth: Houston, Texas, U.S.
  • Date of Death: March 20, 2020
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: American
  • Zodiac Sign: Leo
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Kenny Rogers’ Wife: Wanda Miller (June 1, 1997)
  • Ex-Wives: Janice Gordon (1958 – 1960), Jean Rogers (1960 – 1963), Margo Anderson (1963 – 1975), and Marianne Gordon (1, 1977 – 1993)
  • Kenny Rogers’ Children: 5
  • Kenny Rogers’ Parents: Lucille Lois Rogers and Edward Floyd Rogers
  • Kenny Rogers’ Height in Inches: 72
  • Kenny Rogers’ Height in Centimetres: 182.8
  • Kenny Rogers’ Weight: 78 kg
  • Kenny Rogers’ Net worth: $250 million
  • Famous for: Being one of the most successful country singers to have ever lived
  • Kenny Rogers’ Instagram: _kennyrogers
  • Twitter: Kenny Rogers
  • Facebook: Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers At A Glance

Kenny Rogers’ Early Experiment With Music

Kenny Rogers has had a truly extraordinary journey through music. Born on August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas, the future Hall of Famer grew up in a poor home and had to make do with whatever he could lay his hands on. Born the fourth of eight children, Rogers progressed steadily through high school despite his family’s poor financial status.

Kenny Rogers always knew that he wanted to make music and so by the time he started high school, he decided to make a career out of it. Rogers eventually saved up money and bought himself a guitar and became engrossed with playing it.

It is noteworthy that during his early years as a musician, Rogers experimented with different sounds including Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, and folk-pop before settling purely for country music.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Feel With “The Scholars”

In 1956, Kenny Rogers, who was still in high school at the time, started a band he called The Scholars which recorded and released some local hits that garnered them fans in their home state of Texas. Like we have already mentioned, Rogers did not begin his career as a country singer; at the time he sang with The Scholars, he considered himself a Rock ‘n’ Roll musician.

In 1957, Rogers recorded a solo single called That Crazy Feeling and even performed the song on American Bandstand, a hugely popular music television show at the time. This got him some exposure and widened his fanbase.

Playing Jazz With “The Bobby Doyle Three”

Kenny Rogers did not remain with The Scholars forever because the group disbanded in the early ’60s. Shortly after The Scholars broke up, Kenny Rogers decided to experiment with another music style and transformed from being a Rock ‘n’ Roll star to being a Jazz singer and consequently joined another band called The Bobby Doyle Three.

Kenny Rogers
A young Kenny Rogers with his Bobby Doyle Three group members on the cover of a 1962 jazz album promo.

The Bobby Doyle Three band found quite some success and had a rather reasonable fan following. They signed with Columbia Records and staged a lot of performances in clubs especially because their fanbase was growing by the day.

Unfortunately, things eventually fell apart and the Bobby Doyle Three disbanded in 1965 with all group members going their separate ways. The next year in 1966, Rogers recorded a jazzy rock single called Here’s That Rainy Day for Mercury Records. However, the single failed to fly.

It is also noteworthy that, at this time, Kenny Rogers, who was a multi-talented fellow, was also already working as a producer and writer. He was also on record to have worked as a session musician for other performers.

A Double Bass Player With “The New Christy Minstrels”

In 1966, Kenny Rogers adopted yet another music style, this time the folk-pop style, and joined another group called The New Christy Minstrels. Rogers served as both a singer and double bass player for the group. However, the progress that the group made did not impress Rogers who felt that the success was too slow in coming.

Incidentally, he was not the only one who felt that way as other group members including Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho all felt that The New Christy Minstrels was not achieving the kind of success they wanted so they decided to leave the group and form a new one.

Kenny Rogers’ Exploits With “The First Edition”

Eventually, Kenny Rogers and his fellow disgruntled New Christy Minstrels members left the group and together, they formed another band which they called The First Edition in 1967. They had the sole aim of becoming one of the most talked-about groups around the USA and so they set to work immediately.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers and the First Edition

Kenny Rogers served as the lead singer of The First Edition and became one of its most recognized faces. In fact, he became so influential that the group eventually became known as ‘Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’. Just like they wanted, Rogers and his The First Edition group members achieved success in the 1960s. They won over so many fans and were renowned for their ability to fuse folk, rock, and country sounds.

The First Edition released a number of hits song that stood out on both the pop and country charts in the 1960s and early ’70s. Some of these hit songs included But You Know I Love You, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, and Tell It All, Brother among many others.

Finally, after almost ten years together, the First Edition disbanded in 1976. At this point, Kenny Rogers had already decided to fully commit to pursuing a solo career and make a name for himself. And this is exactly what he went on to do.

How He Achieved Mainstream Success in His Solo Career

Like we have mentioned earlier, The First Edition broke up in 1974 and Kenny Rogers decided he wanted to pursue a solo career. At this time, the singer was in serious debt and was desperately in need of finding a way to make himself relevant again in the music scene.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers on stage.

As a solo act, Rogers opted to dedicate his energy to making country music and consequently signed a solo deal with United Artists, a production company. During this time, he also began a partnership with popular producer Larry Butler whose help he used to devise accessible and radio-ready creations of country-pop music which ultimately sold out to both pop and country audiences.

Kenny Rogers eventually released his first album called Love Lifted Me in 1976. The album was found some success in America with some of its songs reaching the top 20 Country Music Chart. Although the album was a minor hit, it showed the public what Kenny Rogers was capable of doing with his voice and his style. It heralded his emergence as country music royalty.

It was the next year in 1977, that Kenny Rogers found immense success, becoming a global sensation after he released his second album. The album which was self-titled Kenny Rogers contained the very popular song Lucille which achieved great acclaim. Lucille sold several million copies and became a major hit, reaching the top of the country music chart and eventually fetching the artist his first Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

Kenny Rogers did not slow down at all; in 1978, one year after the release of his second album, he released Love or Something Like It and The Gambler which happens to be one of his greatest works. The song The Gambler from the album of the same name went on to give him his second Grammy Award.

By the 1980s, Kenny Rogers was commanding almost as much influence among pop music fans as he was commanding with country fans especially with singles such as his cover of Lionel Richie’s Lady. Also, he started doing a series of duets with pop stars like such as Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton.

Throughout the 1980s, Kenny Rogers kept making long strides, scoring several top country hits on a regular basis and cementing his legacy as one of the top icons in country music. Some of his many hits during that period include Morning Desire, Twenty Years Ago, Tomb of the Unknown Love, among many others.

In 1985, Kenny Rogers joined 44 other popular, established music artists to record “We Are the World”, the worldwide charity song which made waves all around the globe, to support hunger victims in Africa. Not slowing down at all, the very next year, he stunned teeming fans with his music when played at Giants Stadium in New York.

Kenny Rogers has also teamed up with other country musicians to make lovely music during his career. He has worked several times with world-famous country star, Dolly Parton. In 1983, they collaborated on recording the song Islands in the Stream. The song climbed to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The two singers have also famously recorded a Christmas album together.

In 1988, Kenny Rogers hooked up with Ronnie Milsap, another very popular country musician, and recorded Make No Mistake, She’s Mine. The song did very well, climbing to the Number One spot on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks and earning Rogers a Grammy Award for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” afterward.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers performs with

In the 1990s, Kenny Rogers’ popularity kept growing as he continued to appear on charts frequently with his many singles some of which included The Greatest, The Factory and If You Want To Find Love, and Crazy In Love among others. He continued making waves right into the 2000s, earning another Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks with Buy Me a Rose in May 2000. This feat made Kenny Rogers oldest country singer to have a Number One hit (he was 61 years old at the time the single reached number one)

Kenny Rogers would go on to record a total of 65 albums during his career. During this time, he has sold more than 165 million records, making him one of the best selling artists of all time. Through his years as a singer, he has won many awards, including Grammys Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and SESAC Nashville Music Awards among others.

In 2013, Kenny Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2017 he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. He has received several other honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award at International Entertainment Buyers Association in 2003 and the ASCAP Golden Note Award in 2007. Ultimately, Kenny Rogers has gone down in history as not just one of the most successful country musicians of all time, but one of the most successful musicians ever.

Finally, after sixty years in the business, Rogers eventually called time on his career in 2017 with an all-star farewell concert that was held in Nashville.

Retirement From Making Music, Death and Legacies

In the year 2015, Kenny Rogers announced that he was retiring from music with a farewell tour, titled The Gambler’s Last Deal. According to Rogers, he would retire once he completed the tour. He also revealed that his very final tour appearance would be on NBC’s Today show where he would wrap things up.

Eventually, tour dates were announced, which ran straight through 2018, to the excitement of fans who wanted to see the star one last time in action. Some of the places he was billed to visit on tour included the United States, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Scotland, Netherlands, and England.

Unfortunately, after starting the farewell tour, Rogers could not complete it after he fell ill and was advised by doctors to cancel the rest of the tour. His last concert took place on October 25, 2017, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The event featured a huge array of popular guest artists who joined him in celebrating his life of extraordinary music-making. Some of these guest artists included Dolly Parton, Linda Davis, Lionel Richie, The Flaming Lips, Elle King, Little Big Town, and many others.

Kenny Rogers on stage with Dolly Parton at his final concert.

So, after having spent 60 long years making music, Kenny Rogers retired from the game in 2017 to huge applause from teeming fans as well as industry experts.

Since he retired from making music, Kenny Rogers has made headlines a number of times and some of those times there were reports and rumors that he had passed away. These rumors have always caused a stir among his many fans who have come to totally adore what he stands for.

The legendary country singer has been rumored on several occasions to have died in the past. The most recent case was in 2018 when reports emerged that he had passed away. However, these are mere hoaxes as the singer is very much alive. Nevertheless, he may also not have been in the best health as there have been health concerns about him.

Concerns About The Legend’s Health and Eventual Death

There have been concerns for a while about Kenny Roger’s ill-health and the challenges he has been facing. In May 2019, the singer was hospitalized again and fans became very concerned about him. In fact, some reports emerged, claiming that Rogers has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and that he was dying.

However, the singer himself soon dismissed the speculations as mere rumors lacking any iota of truth. In a statement which he released to address the matter through his representatives, Rogers explained that he only went to the hospital because he was suffering from dehydration and had to get appropriate treatment.

Kenny Rogers has also been active on social media where he relates with his fans. In November 2019, Billboard included Kenny Rogers in its list of ‘Top Artistes Of All Time’ and the singer quickly took to Instagram to show how excited he was about it.

On March 20, 2020, Rogers died under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia at age 81, he died of natural causes

Kenny Rogers will always be remembered for an indelible mark he left on American music. Over the course of his six-decade career, he established himself as one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling 120 million albums worldwide and winning 3 grammy awards

What We Know About Kenny Rogers and His Many Marriages

Kenny Rogers was not just known for being the ‘king of country music’ as he is also unfortunately known for his many failed marriages to different women. As a matter of fact, the singer has been married five times to five different women with four of those marriages failing. Interestingly, each of his marriages ended up lasting longer than the previous one.

Janice Gordon

Kenny Rogers’ first marriage was to a woman called Janice Gordon. According to our sources, Rogers and Janice got together in 1957 and started a relationship. They remained together, building their relationship for about one year before they eventually tied the knot as husband and wife on 15th May 1958. During their time together, they had a child called Carole Rogers.

However, things fell apart for the couple and in April 1960, about two years after their marriage, they sealed their divorce, going their separate ways afterward.

Jean Rogers

Not long after he divorced Janice Gordon, Kenny Rogers met with another woman called Jean Rogers and started a relationship with her. Their love metamorphosed to something bigger and they decided to get married.

Kenny Rogers and jean Rogers eventually tied the knot as husband and wife in the month of October 1960. Just like his first marriage, this second marriage did not last long, however, it lasted longer than his union with Janice because he remained married to Jean for three years before he divorced her in 1963. They had no child together.

Margo Anderson

Shortly after his divorce from Jean Rogers, Kenny Rogers met and fell in love with a woman called Margo Anderson. According to our findings, the singer began a relationship with her in July 1963 and continued dating her for over one year.

Eventually, they tied the knot as husband and wife on 1st October 1964. The couple remained married for more than ten years and had one son named Kenny Rogers Jr. Finally, after being married for about eleven years, Kenny Rogers and Margo Anderson decided they wanted a divorce.

They completed their divorce in 1976.

Marianne Gordon

After he parted ways with Margo Anderson, Kenny Rogers met and fell in love with American actress, Marianne Gordon. At the time they met, Marianne was also a divorcee, so it seemed that they were meant to be together. Their love blossomed and on October 1, 1977, they got married.

Kenny Rogers’ marriage to Marianne Gordon produced one child, a son Christopher Cody Rogers who was born in 1982. Ultimately, the couple remained together as husband and wife for 17 years until 1993 when they parted ways in divorce.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers and his wife, Wanda Miller.

Wanda Miller

After leaving Marianne Gordon, Kenny Rogers started a relationship with a woman called Wanda Miller. The country music legend was currently married to her before his death.

According to our findings, the pair got married on June 1, 1997, about four years after Kenny Rogers divorced his fourth wife, Marianne. They have remained together ever since and it is on record that Rogers has constantly called Wanda his ‘soulmate’ and that he can not do without her.

Rogers and Wanda now have a set of twin boys named Justin Charles and Jordan Edward. The twins were born on the 6th of July 2004. All together, Kenny Rogers has been blessed with five children from all his marriages.

Kenny Rogers Was Also An Actor

Everyone knows Kenny Rogers to be one of the greatest country singers to have ever lived but not many realize that he has also had quite an interesting career as an actor. As a matter of fact, Rogers has appeared in more than twenty movies, TV series and short films over the years winning movies fans over wit his charming charisma and versatility.

Kenny Rogers kickstarted his acting career in 1973 with appearances in Saga of Sonora, a TV movie in which he played Balladeer. He went on to play Earl in the 1975 movie The Dream Makers and Brady Hawkes in the 1980 film, The Gambler. In 1982, he starred as Brewster Baker, a race-car driver in the movie Six Pack, The movie grossed more than $20 million at the United States box office.

His other film roles include Matt in Wild Horses, Frank Morgan in Christmas in America, and John J. MacShayne in MacShayne: The Final Roll of the Dice among many others. His last recorded acting role was in the 2010 film, Change in the Wind.

Kenny Rogers’ compositions and music have been used for different movies and TV series over the years and have had also referenced in many others. Apparently, his influence in popular culture was unbelievably immense.

Tim Walbe
Tim Walbe
Tim is a seasoned journalist and a graduate of Mass Communications who has been writing for over 4 years. He reviews products, writes about games and computers, and talk tech and arts. If there is a WIII, He believes it could be caused by bad writing


Featured Today

Fact Check

We strive for fairness and accuracy, if you've found a possible error or something that needs updating, please contact us

Related Stories