Kenny Ray Rogers is one of the most legendary country music stars of all time. Yes, that is quite a statement but we think it’s accurate. The singer, actor, songwriter, record producer and serial entrepreneur is synonymous with all things country. He has been a part of the Country Music Hall of Fame for decades and is the voice and mastermind behind over 120 hit singles. Kenny’s life outside of his music was a bubbly one at that. Between the women, the children, and the drama, there’s a lot you didn’t know about the country crooner.
Kenny before it all
Let’s start everything off with the fact that Kenny is actually Kenneth. It was variety show host Larry Kane that told Kenny to change his name from Kenneth – it was too official of a name. Larry made sure Kenny would indeed change his name as he announced that KENNY (not Kenneth) was coming out on stage to sing his song. Once the public heard Kenny, he couldn’t take it back. Kenny was happy with the shift in his name once the girls in the crowd starting screaming it.
Believe it or not, Kenny was first in a jazz trio and then in a psychodelic hippie pop band! We oculdn’t image it either, don’t feel bad. Kenny got his ears pierced, and let his hair (everywhere) grow out. Kenny was the lead singer of the band, The First Edition. You may not recognize the name of the band but we’re pretty sure you heard their music. Their song, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) was in the hit1968 film The Big Lebowski.
Kenny has been married a record five times. His fourth divorce from wife Marianne Gordon is one for the books, though. Not only was this divorce the messiest of all of his many divorces but it was the one that cost Kenny the most. Marianne and Kenny were married for 16 years and share one son together. When the two decided to call it quits, Marianne ended up getting $60 million of the singers fortune.
Darling Kenny has undergone some facial plastic surgery, some failed plastic surgery, to be more blunt. It was Kenny himself who admitted to having gone under the knife. Kenny stated that he didn’t like how the surgery turned out because he felt more feminine. His very close friend Dolly Parton said that she thought that Kenny went to Jiffy Suck to get his work done, although a couple years afterwards she said that he has grown into the look.
Kenny owned his very own restaurant called Kenny Rogers Roasters back in the 90s and early 2000s. It was there that he got a shot of instant fame when Mad TV decided to make him the butt of their joke when they featured Kenny and his restaurant in their shows. Audiences loved the show and seeing Kenny on it, so it goes to show Mad TV – no one can mess with Kenny!
Kenny is a bold man. He proved that when he decided it would be a good idea to set up a 1-800 number so that women could call him to have intimate relations via the phone. These days, we all couldn’t care less, but back in the 80s and 90s, this was down right scandalous. Kenny didn’t think it was such a big deal and that he was entirely innocent in the matter since he was hiding nothing, but back then the scandal almost cost Kenny his entire career.
Listening to momma
Kenny asked his mom once what he should do with his life. His mother, a very wise woman, told him that he should follow what makes him feel good. Just like the saying, doing something you love means you never feel like you’re working at all. Kenny decided to listen to momma and go into what he loved most of all – music. Kenny also went on to say that through his love of his work he has been able to better balance the ups and downs of fame and fortune.
You would expect someone like the legendary Kenny Rogers to be rolling in the dough. Well, you would be wrong. Between the divorces and overspending, Kenny was almost broke much of the time. He never learned how to handle his finances in a wise manner and would spend what he earned as quickly as he earned it. Kenny said that one of the best purchased that he ever made was a set of automatic sprinklers. Practical!
Wild wild Kenny
Kenny lost his virginity when he was 19 years old. While that may be older than most of us, he still wasn’t as smart as us since he managed to get the girl he was with pregnant through that first time of his! The woman ended up giving birth to Kenny’s first child, a daughter. Although she is biologically his, Kenny doesn’t have a relationship with her because the mom went off and married someone else and had that man raise their daughter as his own. Kenny was always alright with her decision.
Kenny married wife number five, Wanda Miller, on June 1, 1997. The two are still together and are as happy as can be. Kenny has said many times that he thinks Wanda is his true soul mate. The interesting part of their relationship is that Kenny is two years older than his in laws! Wanda’s parents initially did not approve of their union due to his age, but they were soon won over by his charismatic personality.
The opposite of his dad
Kenny’s father was a World War II veteran who returned from the war to find unemployment and emptiness in his life. He eventually turned to the bottle for comfort which led to a very tense home life for Kenny. It was his father’s behavior that lead Kenny to be even more ambitious than he thought he could be. He didn’t want to be like his father and sit around all day feeling sorry for himself for being poor.
When Kenny was younger he loved being out in the sun. When he was older, that time in the sun resulted in a skin cancer diagnosis. Everything was taken care of once it was detected but it had Kenny out of the sun thereafter. Kenny also spoke about his condition during National Skin Cancer Month. He also said that he was scared to miss out on the chance to be with his family and loved ones. His fear of not having enough time with them is what eventually led him to quit the music business.
You know that 1-800 number we told you about earlier? Well, there was a female caller, Lisa Applewhite, who spoke to Kenny and sent him some explicit photos at the time. He proceeded to invite her to one of his shows in New York City and to his hotel room thereafter. It was in the hotel room that Lisa said that Kenny touched her in a way that she didn’t find pleasing and was too afraid to fight back. She said that she was scared that he would come after her if she did.
Kenny and Dottie were a duet match made in heaven. The country crooners were made for singing together. The two made hit after hit, such as Every Time Two Fools Collide, What Are We Doin’ in Love, and All I Ever Needed Is You. When Dottie was on her deathbed, Kenny would come and sing and talk to her to try and get her on the better side of things. Sadly, doctors said that Dottie was past the point of no return.
Tennis loved the game of tennis almost as much as he loved music. It was said that he would play for eight hours a day several times a week (when did he have the time?). He was so good that he ranked nationally in the United States Tennis Association. When he would go on tour, he would still find the time to get his tennis time in.
Kenny made an appearance on the iconic show Reno 911 back in 2004. On the episode, Kenny was in Reno for a book signing and used the show for its security detail. Once fans of his heard that he was in town and on the show, they raced over to Kenny’s private detail and got themselves into a whole heap of trouble. It was indeed a very funny episode.
Kenny made us all laugh when he decided to take on a Geico commercial, you know, the one with the little lizard. In the commercial, Kenny was playing poker with some other people when he begins to sing one of his many hit songs, The Gambler. The other three people at the table just look on in wonder as Kenny continues to sing. We have to admit, it was one of the best Geico commercials to date.
When Kenny wanted to come out with a greatest love hits back in the 90s, he didn’t want to decide for himself which songs were to be on the album, he wanted his fans to choose it for him since ti was for them anyway. He asked his fans who were watching QVC, where the record would be on sale on, to vote as to which songs would go on the record. His fans did just that and the record was produced.
Obviously Kenny would have a memoir, his fans want to know it all! It was in 2012 that Kenny finally came out with his memoir, Luck or Something Like It: A Memoir. In his memoir, Kenny talks about the many years he has been in the music industry and the many events and trials he has been through. The memoir goes back to his jazz beginnings and all the way through to today’s country music legend status.
There’s no doubting Kenny Rogers sold a serious amount of records in his time; so many, in fact, that he became the eighth most profitable musician of all time (according to the RIAA). Kenny was no stranger to Gold records, with over 30 of his albums earning that status. He also earned 19 Platinum records and one Diamond. To get a Diamond record is no easy feat – over 10 million copies need to be sold to earn the title. His Greatest Hits Album was the winner of this prestigious award, as it sold over 24 million copies worldwide.
We Are The World
Anyone who grew up in the 1980s will remember the African famine news, which dominated the headlines in that time. A huge drought meant countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, and dozens of others were left hungry. Millions of people were unable to eat, with thousands not making it through these tough times. During this time, some of the biggest musicians of all time decided to record a song in order to raise much-needed funds. The song, called We Are The World, raised $60 million and featured the one and only Kenny Rogers.
Six Pack movie
Kenny Rogers wasn’t just renowned for his incredible musical talents. He also had his own movie! Six Pack was a film based on a group of orphans who strip down Kenny’s racing car. In order to get all of the parts back, Kenny has to race his stripped down vehicle and win his car back. While it wasn’t a huge hit, it did end up making around $20 million in the US Box Office; more than most musicians’ debut movies.
Entering the Hall of Fame
One thing that every musician aims for is recognition in the Hall of Fame. Kenny Rogers finally earned his spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame 2013, nearly 50-years after he first started making music. There was no denying that Kenny had played a big part in making country music more mainstream and inspired so many artists to pursue their musical journey in this genre. Big-name country singer Garth Brooks has often said he credits Kenny with inspiring him and teaching him how to be a showman when he first started out.
The Kenny Rogers car
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Kenny Rogers was not just known as a music star; he was also a racing team! The star put his name to a sprint car racing team who ended up being pretty successful, winning the World of Outlaws Race and Knoxville Nationals. The Kenny Rogers team was headed up by C.K. Spurlock from Hendersonville in Tennessee and truly lived up to their legendary name. The cars themselves were called “The Gambler” in honor of Kenny’s hit song of the same name.
The Best of the Real West
Kenny Rogers had always been a self-confessed history nerd, so jumped at the chance to be involved with a show aired on The History Channel. The Real West ran from 1991 until 1994, originally for A&E and then being shown on The History Channel after. The show focuses on the history of the old, wild west and looks at some of the significant events that shaped Western American history. There are still re-runs on The History Channel if you need to get your Wild West fix.
Even more books
While Kenny could have just stopped with a memoir, he was keen to get more books on the shelves and into the homes of people around the world. He released a collection of coffee table books that showed off his artistic side, including This is My Country and Your Friends and Mine. The two mentioned featured rather impressive images of celebrities such as Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, and Tammy Wynette, to name a few.
Exclusively at Cracker Barrel
If you ever fancy a nostalgia trip or need somewhere to stop on a long road trip, Cracker Barrel is the place to be. Not only do they have a huge collection of country memorabilia, but they’re also the only place to sell The Love of God. This album, by Kenny Rogers, is filled with songs that were big when Kenny was growing up, along with a number of big gospel hits. Even more of a reason to visit Cracker Barrel now!
A Muppet kind of cameo
In quite possibly one of the best episodes of The Muppet Show, Kenny Rogers makes a rather hilarious cameo. In this episode, Kenny Rogers’ dressing room is about to be knocked down by Arabs who have bought it for oil. One of their camels breaks Kenny’s guitar by stepping on it, so they buy him a new one, and he promises to teach them to sing in order for free gas. Kenny also sings The Gambler in this episode, with one of the muppets taking on the title role.
Kenny Rogers also features on an episode of Seinfeld, along with his world-famous chicken franchise. In this episode, a bright red light shines from the restaurant which drives Seinfeld and Kramer crazy. They fight to get the restaurant moved, before actually going in and seeing what all the fuss about the chicken is about. They fall in love with the food right before the restaurant gets moved, leading to them actually be sad that it’s gone. Typical.
In news that broke the hearts of Kenny Rogers fans everywhere, the country star has admitted that he is going to retire once the 2017 concert season is over. Kenny is now nearly 79-years old and has said that he can no longer take his incredible music on tours around the world. After nearly 60-years of touring and performing, we can forgive Kenny for needing a break from the hectic country music scene.
Kenny Rogers wasn’t always a big country music star. In fact, he was into a completely different genre before that – jazz! Kenny played bass for a band named the Bobby Doyle Trio, but unfortunately, they didn’t do so well. As they were making no money and barely getting any bookings, they finally decided to call it a day in 1965. And it’s lucky they did. Otherwise, Kenny may not have been one of the biggest country stars in the world today!
Believe it or not, Kenny Rogers has a rather compelling passion. Interior design! He’s adamant he has a real eye for designing houses, having put his stamp on over 20 properties so far. He also has his own interior design studio with Jim Weinberg, who Kenny has been friends with for quite some time. Kenji Design Studio, as his business is named, has tackled some huge properties; including the Atlanta chain of the US President’s hotels.
The chicken chain featured in the Seinfeld episode mentioned earlier is real! Kenny Rogers Roasters is a fried chicken shop that the musician set up to take on giants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Boston Market. Kenny wanted his chicken to have much less salt than the other big names, but unfortunately, it didn’t go so well. The American stores have all since closed up, but there are still some left in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Men who look like Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers was once asked what his favorite website on the internet was and you’ll never believe his answer. It’s a parody site, about him! MenWhoLookLikeKennyRogers.com asks people to send in pictures of people they think look like the country superstar. Kenny was happy to give his seal of approval for the site, as long as it was kept in good taste. Admit it, you’re now going to spend all day on it, aren’t you?
A potential fling
Everyone knows how close Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were, having recorded several chart topping hits together. Who can forget classics such as You Can’t Make Old Friends, Islands in the Stream, and their Christmas special?! Many people believed that the two had a fling, particularly as they were so close. Kenny Rogers has had five wives over the years, so if they had been seeing each other, it would likely have been a secret affair.
Does anyone remember the awesome Kenny Rogers Classic? This event saw big stars in movie, TV, and sport pitted against each other in order to raise money for charity. During the years we’ve seen John McEnroe trying his hand at basketball, Michael Jordan giving tennis a go, and even Woody Harrelson playing golf. This big weekend was extremely popular, with all the money raised going to the homeless in Athens, Georgia.
Getting the surgery
Kenny Rogers has admitted he didn’t like the eyelid plastic surgery he got, but he’s also given a pretty simple reason as to why he got it. Nope, it wasn’t for medical reasons or anything. Turns out, Kenny Rogers wanted to get eyelid plastic surgery so that he “didn’t look like a young man with a super young wife.” Well, that settles it then! Just a shame he didn’t like the end result.
Stone cold sober
Many musicians and bands were known for taking illegal substances before going on stage in the 1960s and 1970s, but not Kenny! He admitted that he did once take something before he went on stage one time and thought he sounded fantastic. However, he soon found out that his vocals were completely off and he vowed never to do it again. Proving he’s in it solely for the music, Kenny Rogers will only perform sober.
Gallagher, the philosopher
Gallagher was an extremely popular comedian, known for his utterly bizarre take on life, use of props, and his penchant for smashing fruit up. While many of us take this comedian with a pinch of salt, Kenny Rogers believes he’s much more than that. He’s said that Gallagher is one of the most introspective and thought-provoking people he’s ever met; a philosopher of sorts. Kenny even still imagines what life would be like if chairs were designed for legs that bend in the wrong way.
No free meal for you!
Apparently, the pictures posted of Kenny Rogers at the Kenny Rogers Roasters don’t look much like Kenny Rogers. During a vacation to Greece, Rogers decided that he wanted to stop by one of his franchise restaurants for a quick bite. While the singer thought that he could have a free dinner at his own restaurant, he was mistaken. Unfortunately for him, the restaurant’s manager looked at the real Kenny Rogers and did not believe that he was actually the man in the photos. Rogers eventually had to pay for his dinner.
As it turned out, Rogers almost prevented his autobiography from being published at the last minute. The famous singer thought that the book, which was titled Luck or Something Like It, would make him look bad because it was only about his scandalous behavior. The publishers calmed Rogers down and promised him that they were really interested in his ‘rags to riches’ story of becoming a highly successful country singer. It was only then that Rogers allowed them to print it.
One of the main reasons why Kenny Rogers is so successful is because he is known as one of the nicest people in the entertainment business. Rogers said that he received a piece of advice long time ago, that if you’ll hurt someone on your way up, they will find a way to bring you down. He also said that he felt that many people genuinely liked him, and would aid him whenever he was in trouble.
A thin line
Many people say that one of the basic fundamentals behind the persona of Kenny Rogers is the notion that there is little difference between being selfish and highly motivated. Rogers himself admitted that he sacrificed a great deal of things in his life, including his wives and good friends, because of his endless drive for performing. However, Rogers pointed out that when he was married for the fifth time, he realized that maybe he was wrong.
Home Improvement was one of the biggest shows of the 90s. Kenny recorded a special song for the series finale of the show. If you look for it now, you are sure to not find it since no one has been able to uncover it since the shows end. Home Improvement was based on two men who ran a home improvement show out of their homes, with their families and faceless neighbor as well.
After a mutual decision to put an end to the never ending rumors, Dolly and Kenny decided to do a joint interview on Good Morning America in 2013. During the conversation, Parton repeatedly denied having any affair with Rogers, saying that she never had any feelings for him and that she still loves her husband after more than 50 years of marriage. Kenny. on the other hand, claimed that he never thought about any relationship with Dolly.