Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kenny Rogers

When Kenny Rogers hit it big, he hit it HUGE. I was taking guitar lessons when he really started to soar, and the only songs I remember learning in my entire class were "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County." I can still remember the lyrics, if not the chords, to each one.

"The Gambler" kinda made sense, but whose idea was it to teach "Coward of the County," a song about gang rape, to kids? I'm not sure if I quite understood "they took turns at Becky, there was three of them" but looking back it kinda grosses me out.

Lyrics aside, Kenny Rogers was EVERYWHERE in the 1970s. "The Gambler" was not only catchy, it gave him a great nickname. And he had those distinctive looks--the white hair, the full beard--no way were you confusing him with any other singer.

He did some awesome duets, including "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton and "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer" with Kim Carnes. He did "The Muppet Show." He had a chicken franchise, though not in my area -- I only learned about Kenny Rogers Roasters later, from that one "Seinfeld" episode. Also, he made one of the worst movies of the 1980s -- "Six Pack." Can't win 'em all.

To this day, his looks and his voice remain unmistakable, and there's even a site that plays off that -- menwholooklikekennyrogers.com. He knows when to hold em, and when to fold em, even now.


Alison said...

I went to my first concert when I was about seven years old, around 1979. It was Kenny Rogers. I'm the one who wanted to go; my parents humored me.

Gryph said...

I took my mom to a Kenny Rogers concert a few years back...we both wanted to go, but she had a been a hge fan way before the Gambler, back when he was still Kenny Rogers and the 1st Edition. She basically turned into a screaming teenager. It was pretty great.

Anonymous said...

Not forgetting his other earworm, "Lucille." That was the one that really reestablished him after the 1st Edition years of the late 60s.

Sylko said...

I took guitar around the same time! I learned "the gambler" "ruby, don't take your love to town" "daytime Friends" and Lucille. None if them really appropriate for an 8 yr old!

Brian said...

In the late '70s and early '80s, you couldn't turn on a radio without hearing a Kenny Rogers song on at least one station. His music was probably played more than any other artist at the time save for Michael Jackson. I was pretty indifferent to his music, but I always found "Coward of the County" depressing and creepy (I was just old enough to understand what the song was about). As for Kenny Rogers Roasters, that was our favorite place to eat back in the late '80s -- it was sort of an upscale KFC, and you could get a ton of food there cheap. I guess that's why they went out of business... :(