Classic Oldies Music
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  Kenny Rogers  

Kenny Rogers Born in Houston, Texas, on August 21st, 1938, Kenny Rogers, along with seven siblings were raised in one of the poorest sections of town. As Kenny progressed through high school, he began learning how to play guitar and fiddle. When he was a senior, he played in a rockabilly band called "the Scholars". Following his graduation, Kenny released two solo singles, "We'll Always Fall In Love Again" and "For You Alone," on the local independent label, Carlton. The B-side of the first single, "That Crazy Feeling", was popular enough to earn him a guest spot on American Bandstand. In 1959, he started to attend the University of Texas, but soon dropped out to play bass in the jazz combo, the Bobby Doyle Three. While he was with the group, Rogers continued to explore other musical venues, and played bass on Mickey Gilley's 1960 single, "Is It Wrong". The Bobby Doyle Three released one album, "In A Most Unusual Way", before Rogers left the group to play with "the Kirby Stone Four". He didn't stay long with Stone, and he soon landed a solo record contract with Mercury Records. Rogers released a handful of singles on Mercury, all of which failed. Once Mercury dropped him, he joined the New Christy Minstrels in 1966. With them, he can be heard singing on the chorus of the hit record, "Green, Green", behind the lead vocal of Barry McGuire, who would later have a solo smash himself with, "Eve Of Destruction". Rogers stayed with the folk group for year, leaving with several other band members - Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Lou Camacho - in 1967 to form "The First Edition". Adding drummer Terry Jones, the First Edition signed with Reprise and recorded the pop-psychedelic single "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)". The single became a hit early in 1968, climbing to number five in the U.S. Within a year, the group was billed as "Kenny Rogers and the First Edition", and in the summer of 1969, they had their second Top Ten hit, "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town". The country flavour of the single hinted at the direction Rogers was taking, as did the minor hit follow-up, "Ruben James". For the next two years, the First Edition bounced between country, pop and mild psychedelia, scoring minor chart makers, "Heed the Call" and "But You Know I Love You". Their last big hit was with Mac Davis' "Something's Burning" in early 1970. By the end of 1972, the group had their own syndicated television show, but their record sales were drying up. They left Reprise the following year, signing to Kenny's new label, "Jolly Rogers". None of their singles became major hits, though a version of Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again" reached the lower regions of the country charts late in 1973. Rogers left the group in 1974 and the band broke up the following year. At the time the First Edition split, Kenny Rogers was severely in debt and Jolly Rogers was out of business. In order to jump-start his career, he signed to United Artists in 1975, and with the help of producer Larry Butler, he devised an accessible, radio-ready and immaculately crafted take on country-pop that leaned toward adult contemporary pop, not country. "Love Lifted Me", his debut single for the label, was a minor hit early in 1976, but it took a full year for Rogers to have a genuine breakthrough hit with "Lucille". Climbing to number one early in 1977, "Lucille" not only was a major country hit, earning the Country Music Association's single of the year award, but it also was a huge crossover success, peaking at number five on the pop charts. For the next six years, Rogers had a steady string of Top Ten hits on both the country and pop charts. His lush, easy-listening productions and smooth croons showed that country stars could conquer the pop audience, if produced and marketed correctly. During the late '70s and early '80s, much of country radio was dominated either by Urban Cowboy or country-pop in the vein of Rogers' own singles. Between 1978 and 1980, he had five straight number one country singles - "Love Or Something Like It", "The Gambler", "She Believes in Me", "You Decorated My Life", "Coward Of The County" - most of which also reached the pop Top Ten. In addition to his solo hits, he had a series of Top Ten duets with Dottie West, including the number one hits "Every Time Two Fools Collide" (1978), "All I Ever Need Is You" (1979) and "What Are We Doin' in Love" (1981). Not only did his singles sell well, but so did his albums, with every record he released between 1976's "Kenny Rogers" and 1984's "Once Upon a Christmas" going gold or platinum. By the beginning of the '80s, Rogers' audience was as much pop as it was country, and singles like his cover of Lionel Richie's "Lady" confirmed that fact, spending six weeks at the top of the pop charts. Kenny also began duetting with pop singers like Kim Carnes ("Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer", number three country, number four pop, 1980) and Sheena Easton ("We've Got Tonight", number one country, number six pop, 1983). Rogers also began making inroads into television and film, appearing in a number of TV specials and made-for-TV movies, including 1982's "Six Pack" and two movies based on his songs "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County".

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