Kenny Rogers dead: Music legend passes away aged 81
American singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers has died at the age of 81.
The country music legend "passed away peacefully at home at 10.25pm local time from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family," a representative for the singer said in a statement.
Due to the coronavirus national emergency in the US, the family is planning a small private service with a public memorial planned for a later date.
His family posted their official statement on his social media accounts.
The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81. Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. https://t.co/adxAgiMW2s pic.twitter.com/nggWiiotMT— Kenny Rogers (@_KennyRogers) March 21, 2020
In a career that spanned more than six decades, his songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world.
His chart-topping song 'The Gambler', which he sang in 1979, led to five American TV western movies which Rogers also starred in as Brady Hawkes, a fictional old-west gambler.
Other songs including 'Lady', 'Islands In The Stream', 'Lucille', 'She Believes In Me', and 'Through the Years' are just a handful of Rogers' songs that have inspired generations of artists and fans.
Rogers, with 24 number-one hits, was a Country Music Hall of Fame member after he was inducted in 2013.
He received the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association in the same year.
The six-time CMA winner, three-time Grammy Award winner and CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 was also voted the Favourite Singer of All Time in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.
His final tweet was on March 11, when he shared a photo of an original music sheet from when he recorded 'We Are The World' 35 years ago.
"We Are The World." A special experience I loved 35 years ago & think of often. The first night of recording studio tracks (1/22/85) took place at my Lion Share Recording Studio in L.A. This original sheet music belongs to Ken Kragen, who managed me then & organized the event. pic.twitter.com/XgYSlHr8ro— Kenny Rogers (@_KennyRogers) March 10, 2020
The charity single was performed more than 40 music artists including Rogers after being written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones.
The song was created to to raise awareness of widespread, life-threatening poverty in Africa.
"The first night of recording studio tracks (1/22/85) took place at my Lion Share Recording Studio in LA," he said in the caption.
"This original sheet music belongs to Ken Kragen, who managed me then & organised the event."
Rogers was born in Houston, Texas, where he was the fourth of eight children.
He began playing guitar as a young boy.
He was the first member of his family to graduate from high school.
Early in his career, Rogers led the band Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, whose hits included the Mel Tillis-written song, 'Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town.'
By the late 1970s, he had sold over $100 million worth of records.
Rogers also famously sang 'Islands In The Stream' with Dolly Parton, which became an iconic duet.
The two singers have been friends for decades and toured and performed together around the world.
Rogers toured Australia many times -- first as a member of the First Edition in 1973, then with Dolly Parton in 1984 and 1987.
In 1984 when he arrived in Adelaide, he was chauffered away from the airport in a $100,000 Rolls Royce.
He also toured Australia with Reba McEntire in 1998, and as a solo performer in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
In 1987, the singer embraced the lucky country with a game of tennis, and he took home koala and kangaroo souvenirs.
His last Australian tour was in January 2015.
On his final tour of Australia and New Zealand, he said they were two of his favourite places.
"For all of the traveling I've done around the world, Australia and New Zealand remain two of my favorite places to perform," he said in a statement.
"When I was with the First Edition, we made this same trip several times, and no matter how many times I've gone, I've always loved the audiences Down Under.
"They have a great sense of humour, and they've always treated me with such great respect, so for that, I say thank you."
Originally published as Music star Kenny Rogers dead