Kenny Rogers

 

 
 
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Pop-country singer Kenny Rogers was born in Houston, Texas in 1938 and grew up playing guitar and fiddle, even though his family was quite poor. Starting in high school Rogers performed in a succession of local bands with styles ranging from rockabilly to jazz, often playing bass as well as singing. At the age of 19, Kenny had his first million-seller, "Crazy Feeling". Kenny then joined the "Bobby Doyle Trio". In 1966 Rogers joined the popular folk group the New Christy Minstrels, then quit the group the following year to form the slightly psychedelic pop group First Edition. Kenny Rogers and the First Edition's debut release was the psychedelic song "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," which reached No. 5 in 1968. Rogers, as lead vocalist for the First Edition, helped the group develop a unique folk-flavored vocal sound which proved integral to their success. Within two years, the First Edition scored five Top 40 hitsRogers soon became the group's billed frontman, and when the band collapsed in 1974 he went on to a solo career as a country-pop fusion artist.

Kenny Roger's 1976 debut album, Love Lifted Me, contained his first hit, the title single, and paved the way for his first real success, 1977's No. 1 crossover smash "Lucille." Over the next few years his heavily produced pop-country became all the rage in both country and non-country circles as hits like "She Believes in Me," "Coward of the County" and the breakthrough single "The Gambler" popularized the greying Texan. All of his albums went gold or platinum, while duets with vocalist Dottie West frequently hit No. 1 as well. By the 1980s Rogers had expanded into straight-ahead pop, dueting with mainstream artists such as Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton. In 1983 Rogers moved to RCA records, where he recorded more pop songs such as "Islands in the Stream," a duet with Dolly Parton written by the Bee Gees. Though less visible on the charts since the late '80s, Rogers remains incredibly active as a musician, humanitarian (he does frequent charity work), actor, photographer, and owner of the Kenny Rogers' Roasters chain of fast food restaurants.

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