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Kenny Rogers’ Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Comes at Perfect Point in Career

Kenny Rogers
Beth Gwinn, Getty Images
Kenny Rogers teared up as he talked about what it means to him to be one of the newest inductees going into the Country Music Hall of Fame after the official announcement on Wednesday (April 10). The reason for the tears? His 8-year-old twin boys, Justin and Jordan, who often accompany their famous dad to shows and even on stage.

“They give me a purpose in my life,” Kenny told reporters at the press conference. “The greatest gift about this honor is that it happened in my lifetime so I could share it with my boys. I have two older sons who thought I was already in the Hall of Fame. I didn’t have the heart to tell them any different.”

The legendary entertainer has been through at lot of ups and downs in life and has learned to harden himself a bit, but admits, “Kids make you emotional. I don’t know what it is, but they bring out the tears. There are very few things that do that to me, but you just can’t harden up to kids.”

The singer of such beloved hits as “Lady,” “The Gambler” says that his youngest sons are already learning what it’s like to be onstage. It seems they’re watching and learning quickly.

“They come out on stage and sing with me and take the microphone and interview the audience: ‘What is your name, Sir?’ They’ve seen me do it. At this point, what you hope for your children are experiences that they will remember. Something like this, they will remember forever. I’ll bring them with me for the induction.”

Aside from his family, Kenny’s top choice of participants in the Hall of Fame induction ceremony later this year is Dolly Parton, his longtime friend and duet partner on the classic “Islands in the Stream.” He jokingly says she didn’t ask him to come to her induction, but he would have if she’d asked.

“I love her and she loves me, and I think she will do it if she can. That would be a wonderful moment for me in musical history.”

Kenny would like to see another of his duet partners, Dottie West, make Hall of Fame history, as well. “I told the executives that Dottie deserves to be in here maybe even more than me. When we worked together, sparks were flying, and we became really good friends. My dad always told me to be friendly to everyone, but friends with a few. Friendship requires a lot of commitment, and Dolly and Dottie were my friends.”

Kenny is known as a singer who has recorded great story songs, and he gives much of that credit to his long-time producer, Larry Butler, whom he says had the ability to pick great tunes. Interestingly enough, one of his biggest tunes, “The Gambler,” was first cut by his fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, Bobby Bare.

“I recorded a lot of songs by unknown songwriters because I loved finding that talent,” Bobby says. “I recorded songs by Tom T. Hall, Mickey Newbury, Shel Silverstein, Don Schlitz. I recorded ‘The Gambler’ a long time before Kenny did. Songwriters are very special to me; they always have been.”

The man who’s oftentimes nicknamed ‘The Gambler’ says he appreciates the honor of going into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he’s happy that it happened now instead of at the peak of his success. “I had so much going on back then,” Kenny reflects, “and now it has more personal significance than professional significance. There’s a huge distinction between the two.

“It’s not the end of my journey,” he continues, “but it is certainly the high point, no matter what else I accomplish.”

Kenny, Bobby and “Cowboy” Jack Clement will be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at a special ceremony later this year.

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