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H.M. Patterson & Son-Arlington Chapel

173 Allen Road Ne, Sandy Springs, GA

For anyone who would like to read the unabridged story of Kenny’s life and career, his publisher, HarperCollins has made his memoir, Kenny Rogers: Luck or Something Like It, available in e-book form f...
OBITUARY

Kenny Rogers

August 21, 1938March 20, 2020
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On Friday, March 20th, Kenny Rogers passed away at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He was surrounded by his family and died peacefully of natural causes.

Kenny sold 120 million records worldwide, as he transitioned from jazz to folk to rock to, finally, country. At the height of his career, his biggest hits crossed over to pop, which paved the way for many of country music’s most well-known artists today.

At home, he was private and relaxed. He loved and was loved by his family, and was respected by his staff and his crew – his extended family on tour. Some of his favorite restaurants were the Waffle House and any McDonald’s drive-through. He loved to spend time with his boys and liked to joke that, “The Rogers family crest was a TV remote and an unfinished house.”

Kenneth Ray Rogers was born on August 21, 1938 in Houston, Texas. He was the fourth of Lucille and Floyd Rogers’ eight children. They lived in a three-bedroom apartment in the San Felipe Courts housing project of Houston’s Fourth Ward. His mother was the rock of the house but his father was responsible for his love of music.

Floyd played the fiddle and had two brothers who played the guitar. On the weekends, he would pack the kids in the truck and take them to their grandfather’s farm in Apple Springs. The family gathered on the front porch and played Gospel songs. Kenny would play drums with his hands on the old wooden porch. Years later, one of Kenny’s final albums would be a collection of his favorites.

Kenny’s relationship with his mother is best illustrated in a story from one of his brothers. Kenny was at home for dinner during a break from one of his tours. He complimented his mother on her cooking and handed her his plate as if to ask for seconds. Lucille deadpanned, “You might be Kenny Rogers on the road, but right now you’re at home. And at home you’re Kenneth. Get up and get your own.”

Like so many entertainers, Kenny’s talent revealed itself early. He performed at the Texan Theatre at age eleven and formed his first band – The Scholars – at Jefferson Davis High School. He graduated in 1956, and a year after graduation, scored his first hit single: “That Crazy Feeling.” With his oldest brother, Lelan, handling radio promotion, the song earned him a coveted spot on American Bandstand.

His first professional gig was with the Bobby Doyle Trio. Kenny once said he chose to play the bass because there was more demand for bad bass players than there was for bad guitarists. His first success came with The First Edition and hits like “Just Dropped In” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” While “Ruby” rose on the charts, the band changed their name to Kenny Rogers and The First Edition – a move that led to Kenny’s first solo identity as a recording artist.

Over the remainder of his career, Kenny would go on to amass a remarkable twenty-four Number One hits. He was awarded twenty-one American Music Awards, eleven People’s Choice Awards, ten ACM Awards, six CMA Awards, three GRAMMY Awards, the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award, the SESAC Legacy Award, the Horatio Alger Award, and in 2013 Kenny was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Beyond his career, Kenny Rogers was a man of many interests. He had a love for charity and a deep camaraderie with his fellow entertainers. He was an accomplished photographer, designer, landscape artist, and a nationally ranked doubles tennis player. He was also quietly spiritual. He liked to say that his mother took him to the First Baptist Church in downtown Houston “every time the doors were open.”

He recorded his one and only Christian album on his own independent record label. At the end of his farewell tour, he remarked, “Not many people get to see the end of the rainbow. But I think I have.”

Kenny is survived by his wife Wanda Rogers; a daughter, Carole Lynne Billingsley; sons Kenneth Ray Rogers II, Christopher Cody Rogers, and twins Justin Charles and Jordan Edward Rogers. He is survived by two brothers – Roy Rogers (Tanya) and Randy Rogers – and his sister, Sandy Rogers, and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Kenny was preceded in death by his parents, Floyd and Lucille Rogers, and siblings Lelan Rogers, Billy Rogers, Geraldine Houston and Barbara Thuman.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the family is unable to have a funeral at this time. They hope to have a fitting celebration of Kenny’s life at a later date when more are able to attend. In the meantime, for those who would like to honor his memory with a donation, the family suggests a contribution to MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund will support thousands of out-of-work musicians, writers, stagehands, and road crew who have lost jobs as concert tours, music festivals, concert halls, and clubs around the world have shut down. The MusiCares Foundation is a non-profit organization established by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Please click on the link below to make a donation in Kenny Rogers’ name.

Written with love by Christopher Cody Rogers

Services

  • At this time private services will be held.

Memories

Kenny Rogers

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Donna Stroup

April 7, 2020

Where do I start? The first time I heard your voice was “Something’s Burning” on my wedding night! I was hooked! From then on I attended many of your shows over the years. My sons and I became friends with your bus driver Ledford Herron. Whenever you were I at the Star Plaza in Merrillville Indiana, we were there! I was so inspired by the folks I met that worked with you over the years. What a great bunch of folks! To me, that was a great reflection of the kind of person you are. Ledford invited me and my sons to watch a softball game with you and your crew and the Forester Sisters at the F.O.P park in Hammond Indiana. My family and some of my friends attended. A day none of us will ever forget! I took my dad to your show in Aurora, Illinois in November of 2007 and you picked him out of the audience to join you and11 other fans to sing “ The Twelve Days of Christmas!” My dad couldn’t believe he was standing on stage with “ The Gambler!” Later in your career, my friend Christian Scalise, owner of “Country Stars Central” a website dedicated to country music, interviewed you. As his assistant, I had the pleasure of typing it up and I was so excited when I learned we would be meeting you soon! We have also reviewed several of your shows over the years. One being your Christmas/ Hits show at the Star Plaza on November 25th 2015. Before the show, Gene Roy took us to your meet and greet room. Randy Dornan was there, too! I brought an album of photos I had taken over the years of you in concert. You especially enjoyed looking at the softball game pictures I had taken at the FOP field in Hammond, Indiana. The ones of Ledford made you teary-eyed, as he had passed in 2009. You were so kind and genuine to us that night. It felt like being with family! I could go on and on about the times I was able to be at your shows, amazed at what I was witnessing! Your music has given us so many great memories that we will cherish forever. Thank you Kenny. We sure will miss you

TOM & DEBBIE PRINCE

April 7, 2020

OUR THOUGHTS & PRAYERS GO OUT TO THE ENTIRE FAMILY. AND FRIENDS, FANS AND EVERYONE WHO LOVED KENNY. HE WAS AN INCREDIABLE PERSON AS WELL AS AN ENTERTAINER. HE WILL BE SADLY MISSED BY ALL. MAY ALL THE MEMORIES, SONGS AND THE LOVE HE HAD FOR THE PEOPLE AND HIS COUNTRY. WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE KENNY ROGERS IN OUR LIVES. GOD BLESS YOU ALL ! RIP KENNY

Mike Williama

April 7, 2020

My very first memory of Kenny Rogers was “Lucille.” When I was six years old, I was at a restaurant that has a piano player singing and playing for tips. I went over with my dollar for the tip jar and asked if he could play “Lucille,” which was a big hit on the radio at the tile and my favorite song. Of course, he knew it played it. The whole restaurant was singing along. Growing up, whether I was sweeping the garage as a household chore, cleaning my room, mowing the lawn or doing maintenance at the local bowling alley, Kenny’s music was always pumping in my ears. On road trips, his music was always a constant road companion. As an adult, I would see Kenny live in concert six times, including one of his Christmas concerts, three times on his Farewell Tour, even seeing him twice in two nights in two different states. Randy Dorman took two wonderful pictures of me and Kenny over those two nights that I will always cherish. I loved Kenny as though he was a member of my own family. I will miss him dearly and thank you, his wonderful family, for sharing him with us for so long. He was and is our Sweet Music Man, and “nobody sings a love song quite like him.”

Nikki Hinkle

April 7, 2020

Forever a fan... Kenny is truly missed! Most importantly, thoughts and prayers for Wanda and his family. May each memory bring you peace during this difficult time.

Wanda Allison Hawke

April 6, 2020

RIP Kenny. Thoughts and prayers are extended to the family for their loss. He was a very humble and kind person, never to be forgotten . He has received his wings in Glory Land. Shine on dear friend.

Carol Fulton

April 6, 2020

Dear Wanda and family,
We are truly heartbroken but grateful for the many cherished memories Kenny afforded us through the years and blessed for the love of family and friends that emanated through Kenny. He was such an inspiration to me with my photography endeavors and I will forever hold my title of “The Kodak Moment Girl” dear to my heart. We were fortunate in getting to meet him on numerous occasions and had so much fun meeting Christopher and hanging out with Kenny Jr. in Nashville several years back. One of my many favorite memories with Kenny was when my youngest son came home on leave from Kosovo. Gene cleared the room and it was only myself, my husband and son with Gene and Kenny. He was so appreciative of my son’s service in the Marine Corps and shared stories with us about how proud he was the first time he saw his brother Billy in his dress blues. Something you just don’t forget!❤️Thank you for so unselfishly sharing your dear husband with us through the years. Our heart goes out to you and your family and we pray that our loving God will wrap his arms around each of you so that you may find peace and comfort during this difficult time and in the days and years ahead. Christopher, what a beautiful tribute for your Dad... I know he is smiling down on you from those celestial shores. This photo was one of many I took at one of the shows...our thoughts and prayers are with you... we love you all!❤️🙏🏻❤️ Much Love, Carol & Sonny Fulton

Rebecca Fisher

April 6, 2020

I will truely miss Kenny Roger's. I am definitely one of his biggest fans. I have every concert program that I have ever attended. I have every album, I have magazines that he was in. I also was very fortunate to catch one of his signed tambourines. I was sitting in the front row at one of his concerts and he looked right at me and tossed it directly to me. I also have Kenny Roger's shirts. I will cherish each one of my Kenny Rogers memorabilia that I have collected throughout his career. But the best memory I have of Kenny is when he was the spokes person for Barona Indian Casino in Lakeside, Ca. I was chosen to be in 2 of his commercials for the Casino. That was the very first time that i got to personally meet Kenny & Wanda. Kenny was so sincere and very humble. He was loved by so many. I still cry when I think about his passing. I have been a fan for over 40 years. My condolences go out to Wanda and all his children and family & friends. We are all deeply sadden and only wish the best for his family moving forward.
Love, Rebecca

Alan Turner

April 6, 2020

I grew up listening to country music because when I was just turning 10 years old, my father who was terminally ill left me the last birthday gift I would ever receive from him... It was a vynil record from Kenny Rogers called the Gambler.
I became a singer/songwriter and in later years had the honor of opening up for Kenny in Las Vegas. I shared my story and love of country music with him backstage that night. He was so gracious and so kind to me and and so encouraging to me and my music career. He left an unchanging impression on my heart.
I met with him several times since then over the years... Nothing changed... Kenny was the same incredible kind hearted person I met in the beginning. Thank you Kenny for being so real and kind...

My thoughts and prayers are with Wanda and the boys and his entire family. God Bless you all.

Alan Turner

Victoria Burnham

April 5, 2020

I grew up listening to Kenny with my daddy who passed away in 92, he was Kenny's biggest fan. He had the same blue eyes. Kenny was on the top of my bucket list to see in concert and I've always talked and dreamt of meeting him. I never made it to a single concert and my heart is truly broken. I've never mourned for somebody I've never met but I break down in tears just knowing Kenny is gone. He is a legend and will never be forgotten. I love you Kenny and play a song for my daddy when you see him on the golden streets of heaven. To the family of Kenny I give my deepest condolences.

Helen Palmer

April 5, 2020

Our hearts are with the entire Rogers’ family; from Wanda and all of Kenny’s children, grandkids, and the rest of his family, even those not blood related but loved the same way nonetheless! The most impactful and lasting impressions a person leaves behind on this earth are the ways she or he treated others, and while Kenny earned many awards and accolades, his legacy will be one of profound kindness, love, charity, and respect for every person he knew! Christopher, your words and tribute to your Dad are perfect! I’ve recently started to familiarize myself with some of Kenny’s music and as I try to put my thoughts into words I have to laugh at the irony of his song title “You Can’t Make Old Friends”. Kenny most certainly was the kind of guy that made each and every person who knew him feel like an old friend! Sending so much love to all of those who knew and loved Kenny like an old friend, today and always!

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