Kenny Rogers Was One Of “The Greatest Gift(s) Of All”

Just in case you haven’t realized by now, “Un-Block The Music” is written by a New Yorker. As the Coronavirus spreads and our governor has told all businesses to close and workers to stay home, I decided I should write up all of the interviews I have been lucky enough to have had in the last couple of weeks. But, before I do that, I want to pay tribute to Kenny Rogers who passed away this weekend of natural causes at the age of 81. When I worked for Billboard, I did a lot of anniversary tributes, and one of my favorites was for Kenny Rogers.

The post:

The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 p.m. at the age of 81,” his rep said. “Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.”

Kenny had 30 Number One singles across the U.S. pop, country, and adult contemporary charts from 1977 to 1999. He earned three Grammys, five CMA awards, and eight ACM awards, along with membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Songs included: “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” and my favorite “Lady”.

Often times when I worked on special Billboard sections, I gathered quotes for the honoree, but never actually spoke to that person. It was different with Kenny. Not only did I speak to him, but he invited me to his Christmas show at Westbury Music Fair in Long Island.  I took my husband Al and my older daughter Erica, who that the time, must have been about 6 years old. We had a blast mingling with the die-hard Kenny fans, those ladies with the very big hair! All of these fans were so devoted to Kenny who always took the time to show them some love.

Another stand out moment about that tribute was my interview with Lionel Richie who was a very close friend, and the composer of “Lady”. Lionel talked to me about how the two, not only enjoyed successes with each other but also helped each other through the tough times. “Un-Block The Music” will dig through Billboard archives…since Corona is giving me some spare time…and try to find the quote from Lionel. If I find it, I will post it.

Admittedly, I was always more of a Rock and Roll Princess than a country girl, but one of my favorite Christmas albums was recorded by Kenny and his other bestie, Dolly Parton. While “Once Upon A Christmas” was recorded in 1984, long before I ever had a journalism job, still a Christmas does not go by without me listening to “The Greatest Gift of All.” It’s a great anniversary song for my husband and I who were married around Christmas. And, somehow during this crazy time of Corona, the message of this song rings so very true even now in March.

Check it out….then if you are in the suburbs of New York City, go out and play in the snow! Yes,…I said snow.

Stay healthy, and check “Un-Block The Music” later this week for updates on a new female empowerment series that I am going to try and schedule! Ciao for now.


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