Dolly Parton says the death of her longtime friend Kenny Rogers came as a bit of a shock. As a guest on the Today show on Thursday (April 2), for a virtual interview from her home in Nashville, the country star further reflected on her dear friend's passing.

Rogers died of natural causes on March 20, and Parton admits that even though she was aware of his health ailments, the idea of losing a close friend rattled her. "When Kenny passed away, it caught me by surprise," she admits.

"I knew he wasn’t doing well," Parton adds, "but it was just like I lost someone so close to me, it just broke my heart." The star says she has since come to terms with his death and is grateful for the memories they made together.

Kenny Rogers' Farewell Interview Is Short, But Sweet

"It just shocked me, and I was very emotional about it for several days," Parton continues. "Now I've kind of put it in a peaceful place, knowing that he’s at peace.

"My words and love go out to his children and to Wanda, his wife, and to all his fans. I’ll always miss him, but I’ll always treasure what we had together," Parton adds.

Parton delivered a heartfelt tribute to her fellow icon the day after he died, sharing in a video posted to social media, "I loved Kenny with all my heart, and my heart's broken."

Rogers' family has said they hope to have a public celebration of life after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. In the meantime, they are encouraging fans to donate to MusiCares' Coronavirus Relief Fund in Rogers' honor to help people music professionals in need.

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