Vocalist Kenny Rogers, who dominated the pop and country charts in the 1970s and 1980s with a string of sleekly tailored hits and won three Grammys, has died.
According to a statement posted by his family. He was 81.
A representative for the singer said in a statement that the country music star passed away peacefully at his home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.
Born and raised in Houston, he was the fourth of eight children in a poor family. He took to the guitar as an adolescent, and would sometimes perform with another aspiring local musician and future star, Mickey Gilley.
After establishing himself commercially via rock- and pop-oriented singles with his group the First Edition, the bearded, prematurely gray Rogers was launched into the top rank of crossover country artists with a string of singles for United Artists Records.
Rogers had announced a farewell tour in 2015 and was able to keep it going through December 2017.
His early professional career was stylistically eclectic. While in high school, he formed a rockabilly group, the Scholars, who recorded for Carlton Records, a local label. After a brief stint at the University of Houston, he played bass with the jazz groups of Bobby Doyle and Kirby Stone.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1966, he joined the folk-pop unit the New Christy Minstrels, a group that also numbered such performers as Carnes, the Byrds’ Gene Clark, “Eve of Destruction” vocalist Barry McGuire and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Jerry Yester among its members at one time or another.
Rogers parlayed his music success into a successful side career as an actor. His 1978 country chart-topper “The Gambler” spawned five popular TV movies, while some of his other hits also
The Gambler was added to the National Registry in 1978. It was the most recent of a lifetime of honors bestowed on the singer, which included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, three Grammys, and six CMA Awards.
Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association the same year.
Last May, Rogers was admitted to a Georgia hospital for dehydration, amid rumors that his overall health was failing.
In 2018, health problems prompted Rogers to call off shows during what was billed as his farewell concert tour.