Kenny Rogers’ music was the soundtrack of my life. As a kid, I heard a song by The First Edition called "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town.” It was provocative for its time. I had no idea it was a Country song. I barely knew what Country music was.
Then, in the mid-70's, Kenny was attempting to resurrect his career as a Country star. My brother Dan and I attended a United Artists Records show at The Nashville Auditorium. Kenny Rogers closed the show and impressed a tough crowd of radio programmers. Several years later, songs like "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County" were a mainstay during my programming and on-air career.
In New York, my station (WHN) premiered "Islands In The Stream", while our competitor fumed. A few years earlier, backstage at a Kenny Rogers show, I asked Kenny's manager Ken Kragen if it would be ok to ask Kenny to do some promo liners. Kragen said no. I asked Kenny, and he said yes.
Fast forward about fifteen years, and I'm on a CRS Panel, "Too Pop or Too Country" (or words to that effect), and I'm sitting next to Kenny Rogers. NEXT TO KENNY ROGERS. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. He was open and real and told us that he just wanted a shot to stay in the game.
And he did, longer than most artists. My last encounter with Kenny was at a show in Trenton, New Jersey, where I had a chance to say hello backstage. It was a brief encounter after an energetic show by the then 70-ish entertainer.
Kenny, we'll miss you - but we'll always have your music through the years.