Dolly Parton appeared heartbroken as she reacted to longtime friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers’ death via social media on Saturday.
The Islands In The Stream songstress was tear-stricken as she sat at her piano to address fans.
‘You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,’ she wrote in the caption.
Heartbroken: A tear-filled Dolly Parton paid tribute to her late friend Kenny Rogers on Instagram Saturday
‘I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.’
In a video posted to the site, she said: ‘Well, I couldn’t believe it this morning when I got up and turned on the TV, checking to see what the coronavirus was doing and they told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away.’
She shared: ‘And I know that we all know Kenny’s in a better place than we are today. But I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be talking to God sometime today if he ain’t already, and he’s gonna be asking him to spread some light on a bunch of this darkness going on here, but I loved Kenny with all my heart.’
The singing legend continued: My heart’s broken and a big old chunk of it has gone with him today. And I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends and fans, when I say that I will always love you.’
Love: ‘You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,’ she wrote in the caption. The pair are seen in 2016 above
Dolly and Kenny first worked together on the smash hit 1981 single Islands In The Stream, which was written by the Bee Gees.
They were friends and collaborators for decades since, cutting multiple duets albums together including the 1984 release Once Upon A Christmas.
Yet they never became romantically involved, with Dolly telling the Today show in 2017 that ‘we were almost like brother and sister. And it would almost be like incest. So we just never went there.”
The stars saluted Kenny on social media after his death including his fellow country music star Blake Shelton.
‘I can’t express on twitter the impact Kenny Rogers the artist and the man had on me. He was always very kind and fun to be around. Rest In Peace Gambler…’ he wrote.
Kenny’s dear friend Reba McEntire, who is also mourning the loss of her own mother Jacqueline Smith last week, penned a heartfelt tribute on Instagram.
‘Kenny, Go rest high on that mountain. Please tell mama and daddy hi for me. Thank you for your friendship and your love. We are going to miss you but we are so happy you’re singing with the Angels in heaven. Can’t wait to see you again one of these days. Rest in peace my friend,’ Reba wrote.
‘One of the greatest examples of integrity I have ever known. @_KennyRogers was always so very kind to me. Wow. Life is so bittersweet…’ tweeted Wynonna Judd alongside a throwback picture with him and Lionel Richie.
‘I was on an episode of Reno 911! where I played a crazed stalker who shoots Kenny Rogers. The cast loved him, he told great stories, and was a joy to be around. And “The Gambler” is a truly great song. #RIPKennyRogers,’ Patton Oswalt tweeted
Country music icon Kenny died aged 81 of natural causes at his home in Sandy Springs, in northern Fulton County, Georgia, his family said in a statement on Saturday morning.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rogers are planning to have a small private service at this time with a public memorial at a later date.
Statement: Country music icon Kenny Rogers has died aged 81, his family have revealed. (Pictured: the singer and his wife Wanda Miller, 52, are parents to 14-year-old identical twin sons, Jordan and Justin
The statement read: ‘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.’
The husky-voiced balladeer retired from touring in 2017 after a 60-year career spanning jazz, folk, country and pop, with hits like, The Gambler, Lucille, and Lady.
Kenny sold tens of millions of albums, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, earning him super stardom in the 70s and 80s.
Legends: Over the years, Rogers worked often with female duet partners, most memorably, Dolly Parton, as they are seen together in 1983
Announcement: This was posted on Rogers’ official Twitter account late Friday night
Despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.
In 2015, he said: ‘You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no-one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison.
‘And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did.
‘So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.’
Over his career Kenny regularly worked with female duet partners, but more memorable than most was Country icon Dolly Parton and their song Islands in the Stream.
The iconic duo were paired following a suggestion by Bee Gee Barry Gibb, who penned the tune, which went on to become a huge hit.
Loving: Kenny with his wife Wanda at Presidential Reception for Honorees of the 29th Kennedy Center Honors at the White House in December in 2006
Film star: Kenny sold tens of millions of albums, won three Grammys and was the star of TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, earning him super stardom in the 70s and 80s (pictured in the film)
Multi-talented: Rogers had quite the career as he starred in TV film Rio Diablo in 1993
Longtime friends: Dolly and Kenny Live & In Person – Rehearsals September 27, 1983: Los Angeles, CA
Superstar: Kenny performs at the Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois, July 10, 1981
Discussing the partnership and Barry’s suggestion in 2017, Kenny said: ‘Barry was producing an album on me and he gave me this song.
Timeline of Kenny’s life: A hugely successful career, five children and five wives
1983: Kenny Rogers was born on August 21 in Houston, Texas, to parents Lucille Lois and Edward Floyd
1957: Kenny had a solo hit called That Crazy Feeling but when sales slowed down he joined a jazz group called the Bobby Doyle Three
1958: The star married his first wife Janice Gordon on May 15, 1958; they divorced in April 1960 with one child
1960: Soon after Kenny married Jean Rogers in October 1960 and divorced her in 1963
1964: He married Margo Anderson in October 1964 and divorced her in 1976 with one child
1965: His group disbanded in 1965 and a year later Kenny attempted to go solo again however his track called That Rainy Day failed
1966: He joined the New Christy Minstrels as a singer and double bass player
1967: Along with several other members of the band he left to join First Edition, with whom he scored his first major hit, Just Dropped In
1975: Following a run of success the group disbanded and Kenny decided to give his solo career another shot
1977: Kenny married Marianne Gordon on October 1, 1977, and divorced her in 1993 with one child
1980: His song The Gambler won him a Grammy Award was selected in 2018 for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress
1980: In this year came his partnership with Lionel Richie who wrote and produced his No. 1 hit Lady
1981: Kenny purchased the old ABC Dunhill building and built a state of the art recording studio in LA
1984: Kenny’s hugely successful duet with Dolly Parton Islands in the Stream hit the top spot
1991: He worked with former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown Jr to start up the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roaster
1993: He married for the fifth time with Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. The couple had twin sons together
1994: Kenny released his album Timepiece on Atlantic Records which consisted of jazz standards, the type of music he had performed with the Bobby Doyle Three
2003: Two of his albums, The Gambler and Kenny, were featured in the About.com poll of The 200 Most Influential Country Albums Ever
2006: Kenny launched a comeback and released the album 21 Number Ones followed by Water & Bridges
2007: The star celebrated his golden anniversary in the business by releasing the album 50 Years
2013: Was entered into the Country Music Hall of Fame and performed at the Glastonbury Festival
2015: Rogers announced his farewell tour, titled The Gambler’s Last Deal
2017: The singer performed his last concern in Nashville
2020: Kenny died at his home in Sandy Springs
‘And I went and learned it and went into the studio and sang it for four days. And I finally looked at him and said, ‘Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore.’
‘And he said, ‘You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.’ I thought, ‘Man, that guy is a visionary.’
Their plan came together perfectly, as coincidentally Dolly happened to be in the same recording studios in Los Angeles when the idea came up.
Reminiscing on the moment, Kenny said: ‘From the moment she marched into that room, that song never sounded the same.
The singers both toured and continued to record together for years to come, including their last duet, You Can’t Make Old Friends, which was released in 2013.
Kenny, who has wed five times, was latterly married to Wanda Miller. The pair tied-the-knot in 1997 and have remained together since.
The singer and 52-year-old beauty are parents to 14-year-old identical twin sons, Jordan and Justin.
Also the father to three other children, Kenny revealed in 2014 that initially when he began dating Wanda, her parents did not approve.
‘Her parents are two years younger than me,’ he exclaimed to Fox News.
‘They called me when we started dating and said, ‘We want you to know we didn’t appreciate what you’re doing with our daughter,’ and I said, ‘First of all I don’t blame you. I don’t think I would either but I will make you a promise. I will never lie to her and I will never lie to you.”
Kenny is also the father to Carole, 60, Kenny Jr., 55, Christopher Cody, 37.
A true rags-to-riches story, Rogers was raised in public housing in Houston Heights with seven siblings.
As a 20-year-old, he had a gold single called That Crazy Feeling, under the name Kenneth Rogers, but when that early success stalled, he joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass player.
But his breakthrough came when he was asked to join the New Christy Minstrels, a folk group, in 1966.
The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic song, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).
Rogers and First Edition mixed country-rock and folk on songs like Ruby, Don´t Take Your Love To Town, a story of a Vietnam veteran begging his girlfriend to stay.
After the group broke up in 1974, Rogers started his solo career and found a big hit with the sad country ballad Lucille, in 1977, which crossed over to the pop charts and earned Rogers his first Grammy.
Suddenly the star, Rogers added hit after hit for more than a decade.
The Gambler, the Grammy-winning story song penned by Don Schlitz, came out in 1978 and became his signature song with a signature refrain: ‘You gotta know when to hold `em, know when to fold ´em.’
The song spawned a hit TV movie of the same name and several more sequels featuring Rogers as professional gambler Brady Hawkes, and led to a lengthy side career for Rogers as a TV actor and host of several TV specials.
He invested his time and money in a lot of other endeavours over his career, including a passion for photography that led to several books, as well as an autobiography, Making It With Music.
Dynamic duo: Rogers pictured with wife Wanda in Melbourne, Australia back in January 2011
A hit with the ladies! Kenny with (L-R) Irlene Mandrell Louise Mandrell and Barbara Mandrell in 1980
Talented: Rogers seen with his band The First Edition on Lift Off in 1970
Businessman: Rogers (seen in July 2016) invested his time and money in a lot of other endeavors over his career, including a passion for photography that led to several books, as well as an autobiography, Making It With Music
Legend! Kenny performed as a ‘legend’ on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2013
He had a chain of restaurants called Kenny Rogers Roasters, and was a partner behind a riverboat in Branson, Missouri.
He was also involved in numerous charitable causes, among them the Red Cross and MusicCares, and was part of the all-star We are the World recording for famine relief.
By the ’90s, his ability to chart hits had waned, although he still remained a popular live entertainer with regular touring. Still he was an inventive businessman and never stopped trying to find his way back onto the charts.
Former flame: Kenny pictured with his former wife Marianne Gordon at Can’t Stop The Music Fathers Day Event June 13, 1980
Second wife: Kenny married Margo Anderson in October 1964 and divorced her in 1976 with one child (pictured in 1970)
At the age of 61, Rogers had a brief comeback on the country charts in 2000 with a hit song Buy Me A Rose, thanks to his other favorite medium, television.
Producers of the series Touched By An Angel wanted him to appear in an episode, and one of his managers suggested the episode be based on his latest single.
That cross-promotional event earned him his first No. 1 country song in 13 years.
Married five times, Rogers is survived by his last wife Wanda and five children
Lucky enough to meet him: Piers Morgan was one of the first stars to pay tribute to the late country music icon
In memory: American actor Mick Foley and comedian Patton Oswalt also shared their condolences on Twitter
Well loved: Boy George said he played Kenny’s Islands In The Stream at a rave with George Michael, while Richard Marx said he was ‘so sad to see Kenny Rogers go’
‘Thank you Kenny’: The GRAMMYs Twitter page wrote Kenny was a country music legend
As tributes to Rogers began to flow in, singer Richard Marx tweeted: ‘I’m so sad to see Kenny Rogers go. He did so much for me as a young songwriter and we stayed friends for over 30 years.
‘I’ll really miss him. May he rest easy.’
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay told Rogers to ‘rest well’.
She tweeted: ‘Things I know about Kenny Rogers. When THE GAMBLER hit, he was already 50 years old. The songs most know came after. WE ARE THE WORLD was filmed at his studio. My sister Tera worked at Kenny Rogers Roasters as a teen. This is my jam. Rest well, sir.’
Rapper MC Hammer simply shared an image of Rogers and the words: ‘R.I.P.’
Broadcaster Piers Morgan paid tribute and shared a touching unearthed moment with the star.
He revealed: ‘I asked Kenny Rogers which of his songs was his favourite. He immediately said ‘Lady’ then corrected himself. ‘Actually, it would be We’ve Got Tonight.’ The lyrics seem apposite today: ‘We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow? Let’s make it last, let’s find a way.’
Boy George said in tribute: ‘Thanks Kenny Rogers. R.I.P. I played this 45 in the chill out room at a rave called Puscha and George Michael was swinging to it. Fond memories!
Mick Foley said: Very sorry to learn of the passing of country music legend Kenny Rogers. There are so many Rogers classics that I still know by heart – The Gambler, Lucille, Daytime Friends and Nighttime Lovers (my personal favourite) to name just a few. #RIPKennyRogers.
The Grammy’s official Twitter account also paid tribute to Kenny. They commented: ‘#KennyRogers was a Country Music Legend who inspired so many through his work. We are forever grateful to the three-time GRAMMY Award winner for everything he gave music. Thank you Kenny #RIP’
The Golden Globes also paid their respects.
Honouring: The Golden Globes also paid their respects