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Kenny Rogers Remembers His Favorite Duet Partners

Kenny Rogers duet partners
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Kenny Rogers has sung with plenty of fellow artists over the years, including Dolly Parton, Sheena Easton and Kim Carnes, among others. But when asked to pick a favorite, he can’t. Rogers says that, for different reasons, they are all favorites.

“You don’t start off with a partner. You start off with a song, and then you find someone that does it well,” the musical icon explains to The Boot and other reporters. “I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed working with Dottie West, and I think that’s one of the real tragedies, that she hasn’t been inducted into the [Country Music] Hall of Fame. We worked together for about two years, and she was a very special lady.

“Working with Lionel [Richie] was something also,” Rogers adds. “He is so unique in his approach to music, and to be a part of that, and be a friend, was very important.”

Rogers, who sang one of his most famous duets, “Islands in the Stream,” with Parton in 1983, says that the credit for that pairing actually belongs to the Bee Gees.

“They wrote the song,” the singer recalls. “After about four days of singing it, I finally told Barry Gibb, ‘Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore.’ He said, ‘You know what we need? Dolly Parton.’ And Ken Kragen, who was my manager, said, ‘I just saw her downstairs.’

“So he went downstairs and got her, and the minute she walked in, the song was different,” Rogers continues. “It’s like running a 100-yard dash: You run as fast as you think you can, but you put someone beside you who runs a little faster, and I promise you, you are going to run faster. And that’s what happened with that duet. But I have loved every duet.”

The 77-year-old admits that he is fortunate to have collaborated with so many talented artists.

“I’ve sung with some of the most beautiful women: Kim Carnes, Dottie West, Sheena Easton, Dolly Parton — and of course the lovely Ronnie Milsap,” Rogers boasts. “It’s been a great career for me, and I’ve loved sharing it with other people.”

Rogers also sang with Parton on the title track of his 2013 album, You Can’t Make Old Friends. The record is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

See Kenny Rogers’ + More Country Stars’ Yearbook Pictures

NEXT: Top 10 Kenny Rogers Songs

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