How much was Kenny Rogers worth?
|Net Worth:||$250 Million|
|Date of Birth:||August 21, 1938|
|Country:||United States of America|
“I’m ambitious but success is not what drives me. Happiness drives me. I would’ve been content being a local musician, I think, playing my music as long as I could make my house payment and my car payment. . . I would’ve been happy with that.” — Kenny Rogers, on fame.
Who Is Kenny Rogers
Between the years of 1975 and 1985, the world of pop music witnessed very few superstars able to pump out hit after understated hit like veteran country-pop singer Kenny Rogers. An award-winning music star known more for his massive popularity than critical acclaim, Rogers nonetheless displayed an uncanny ability to be a multi-faceted, quintessential crossover artist. At one time during the early ’80s, in fact, Rogers had so saturated the pop culture landscape that his face or voice could be found almost continuously on every radio or television set in many typical American households.
Rogers grew up in the eclectic country music hotbed of Houston, beginning his music career as a teenager during the late ’50s. For the ensuing decade, he would dabble in various music styles ranging from doo-wop to jazz before settling somewhat on a formative style of country-rock. Soon after joining the folk pop group New Christy Minstrels, Rogers and other members of that group went out on their own to form The First Edition, a band that enjoyed an impressive run during the late ’60s on the strength of stylistically diverse singles like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and the tongue-in-cheek psychedelic hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).”
In The Beginning
Kenny Rogers came from lower-class roots. He was the first child in his family to graduate high school. Rogers grew up in Houston, Texas, where his family lived in a federal housing project. His father was an alcoholic and an unskilled laborer, who was frequently out of work; his mother was a nurse.
During his school years, Rogers dabbled in music, joining The Scholars; he served as the bass player and sometime vocalist. The group recorded several singles that found local airplay.
After high school, Rogers worked as an office supply salesman until he was fired for keeping odd hours. He played for the jazz-pop group The Bobby Doyle Trio where Rogers made a good living — earning $700 to $800 a week in the late 1950s. When the group broke up, he joined the folk ensemble The Christy Minstrels.
Instant Solo Stardom – The ’70s
Rogers continued to record with The First Edition for several years into the ’70s, quickly gaining top billing as the group’s lead singer with the smooth voice and laid-back, bearded image. However, it was probably inevitable that Rogers would go solo at some point, even though no one could have been prepared for how quickly he would master that role. 1977’s wistful, worldwide No. 1 pop hit “Lucille” set what would turn out to be a nearly unshakable pattern for singles success. By the time undisputed classics “The Gambler” and “Coward of the County” topped the charts a couple of years later, Rogers had already become an icon and legend.
’80s Success Makes Rogers into Screen Star & King of Duets
Rogers was an early-’80s entertainment Midas of huge proportions, turning two of his recent hit songs into successful TV movies and even starring in his own Hollywood film, 1982’s Six Pack. Nevertheless, Rogers maintained his musical momentum by teaming with fellow pop music genius Lionel Richie, who wrote and produced 1981’s top hit “Lady.” Furthermore, as a duet artist, Rogers enjoyed major hits with popular female performers from Kim Carnes (“Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer”) to Sheena Easton (“We’ve Got Tonight”) to country-pop legend Dolly Parton (“Islands in the Stream”). Along the way, Rogers’ song selection and savvy as an interpreter of others’ material exceeded almost every competitor.
Slow Decline, Ongoing Legacy
By 1986 Rogers’ relevance as a pop singles artist had almost completely disappeared, but he still remained a formidable presence on the country charts in both the U.S. and Canada. And although it didn’t take terribly long for the singer to become a bit of a comic footnote – showing up prominently in a plotline of a Seinfeld episode involving his Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant chain. As a recording artist and performer, Rogers slowed a bit throughout the ’90s but experienced a resurgence that culminated in 2000 with his No. 1 country hit “Buy Me a Rose,” which made the singer, at 61, the oldest country music artist to achieve that distinction.
Claims to Fame:
- Began his career with the folk-rock group New Edition.
- Was an unprecedented crossover success for a country singer — scoring six top 10 songs on the Billboard pop charts between 1977 and 1982.
- Has sold over 85 million records.
- Went into the fast-food business with his Kenny Rogers Roasters fried-chicken franchise.
Rocking Out with First Edition
After The Christy Minstrels dissolved, Rogers joined First Edition, a group that freely mixed country, folk, and rock-‘n’-roll.
Kenny Rogers became the band’s breakout star, singing their best known song “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)”. The tune turned into a #5 pop hit. While the group initially shared vocals, Rogers soon rose to the role of frontman. With the release of “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” the group was renamed Kenny Rogers and First Edition. When the group broke up in 1967, Rogers went on to pursue a solo career as a country singer.
Going Country with ‘Lucille’
After a residency at Las Vegas’s Gold Nugget Casino, Kenny Rogers released his self-titled debut in 1976. The single “Lucille” was released the next year and became one of Rogers’s most enduring hits. The tune helped prove his country credentials, and was named Single of the Year by the Country Music Association; it peaked at #5 on the pop charts.
In the years to come, Rogers’s velvet voice and straightforward delivery were embraced by country and pop audiences alike. Later hits would include “The Gambler” and “Coward of the County.” Each were produced by Larry Butler, who was instrumental in crafting Rogers’s early sound.
Going Pop in the 1980s
In 1980 Kenny Rogers went in an R&B direction by recording Lionel Ritchie’s “Lady”. He continued in this path by working with Barry Gibb (The Bee Gees) on 1983’s The Eyes that See in the Dark, which yielded the #1 hit “Islands in the Stream.”
At the same time, his Greatest Hits proved hugely popular — spending a total 181 weeks on the Billboard album charts.
Falling Out of Favor
Rogers’s crossover sensibility became increasingly out of favor with mainstream country audiences as New Traditionalist artists like Randy Travis and Ricky Van Shelton took over the airwaves
Rogers had his last pop hit in 1997.
Kenny Rogers was a frequent guest host on the Tonight Show. His 1980 TV movie The Gambler was a ratings smash that led to numerous sequels (four and counting). He also starred in the trucker movie Six Pack.
In 1991 Rogers invested in the fast-food chicken outlet Kenny Rogers Roasters; the concern filed for bankruptcy in 1998.
Key Songs by Kenny Rogers
- “The Gambler”
- “Coward of the County”
- “Love Will Turn You Around”
- “Islands in the Stream”
- “She Believes in Me”
- Greatest Hits (Liberty, 1980): There are numerous Kenny Rogers greatest hits collections, but this one-disc wonder has most of his early hits.
- Through the Years (Capitol/EMI, 1999, box set): This four-disc set features the highlights from the span of Rogers’s career. It included everything from early work with The Scholars and New Edition to the classic “The Gambler” and the late-period oddity “Planet Texas.”
Born: Kenneth Ray Rogers, August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas. Died: March 20, 2020, Sandy Springs, Georgia, United States.