Kenny Rogers Through the Years: From the First Edition to Country Legend
Kenny Rogers was a cross-genre success story, with a decades-long, hit-filled career to back up his legendary status.
Born Kenneth Ray Rogers on Aug. 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas, Rogers was the fourth of eight children of Lucille Lois and Edward Floyd Rogers. He was in high school when he formed his first band, a doo-wop group called the Scholars, and earned his first charting song, a solo number called "That Crazy Feeling," in the 1950s.
Rogers performed in a jazz trio, the Bobby Doyle Three, and a folk music ensemble, the New Christy Minstrels, and took jobs as a session musician before, in 1967, forming the First Edition. From there, he launched his illustrious solo career, during which he also recorded a number of hit duets.
Rogers charted in every decade from the 1950s to the 2010s. Throughout his decorated career, he notched 24 No. 1 singles and sold 120 million albums worldwide. He was nominated for three Grammy Awards, 19 AMA Awards, eight ACM Awards and six CMA Awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Rogers was also an actor, a photographer and a writer. His most well-known movies include the made-for-TV films The Gambler and Coward of the County, based off of his songs. He produced several photography books and received an Honorary Masters of Photography from the Professional Photographers of America in 2014.
Rogers embarked on a final farewell tour in 2016. He died on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81.
Flip through the gallery below for a photographic look back at Rogers' truly memorable life and career: