The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will honor Kenny Rogers with the cameo exhibition Kenny Rogers: Through the Years. The exhibit will open in the museum’s East Gallery on August 15, 2014 and run through June 14, 2015.
“Kenny Rogers redefined and elevated country music superstardom in every sense,” Museum Director Kyle Young said. “He blurred traditional genre lines and substantially expanded the core demographics of country music’s audience, all by being true to his unique artistic vision. His versatility is astounding. We could not be more thrilled to share this detailed presentation of his story.”
Kenny has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. He has charted a single in each of the last seven decades, including 21 Billboard No. 1 country hits. He has one diamond album, 19 platinum albums and 31 gold albums and has earned three GRAMMY Awards, six CMA awards (including a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award), eight ACM Awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born in Houston, Kenny formed his first band, R&B group the Scholars, in high school, in 1956. After solo work and performing as a bassist and singer with a jazz trio led by Bobby Doyle, he joined folk group the New Christy Minstrels. A year later, he and bandmates Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho formed the First Edition, adding drummer Mickey Jones. Their recording of Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and after rebranding as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, the group stormed the pop and country charts with “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town).”
In the mid-’70s, members of the First Edition decided to embark upon solo careers. Kenny’s “Lucille” was his first solo country hit. The 1977 GRAMMY-winning song topped the country charts, reached the Top 5 on the pop charts, and was named the CMA Single of the Year. “Lucille” was followed by the hits “Daytime Friends,” “Sweet Music Man” and “Love or Something Like It.”
Kenny’s next album hit the shelves in 1978 and included his career song, “The Gambler.” The song inspired five TV movies starring Kenny as Brady Hawkes. In 1979, the song helped him earn the Best Male Country Vocal Performance GRAMMY and CMA honors for Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. His run of hits continued with “She Believes in Me,” “Coward of the County,” and the Lionel Richie-penned ballad, “Lady.”
Known almost as well for his duets as for his solo recordings, Kenny continued to top the charts in the 1970s and ’80s with his collaborations. He recorded a string of hits with Dottie West, including “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” “All I Ever Need Is You”, and “What Are We Doin’ in Love.” The pair won Vocal Duo of the Year at the 1978 and 1979 CMA Awards. In 1983, he partnered with Dolly Parton for “Islands in the Stream,” the song which earned them ACM Single and Top Vocal Duo awards that year. In 1985, Kenny sang on the landmark USA for Africa recording, “We Are the World,” and in 1987, he teamed with Ronnie Milsap for “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine,” which topped the country chart.
After forming his own company, Dreamcatcher Entertainment, in the late 1990s, Kenny returned to the country charts on Dreamcatcher Records with “The Greatest.” The follow-up, “Buy Me a Rose,” climbed to No. 1 in 2000. In 2011, his first gospel album, The Love of God, became his 21st Top Ten country album. His memoir, Luck or Something Like It, made the New York Times Best Seller list.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013 and received the CMA Lifetime Achievement Award the same year. In 2013, he also released his latest album, You Can’t Make Old Friends, and the title cut, a duet with Dolly Parton, earned the pair their third GRAMMY nomination. Kenny is currently headlining his Through the Years World Tour.
Kenny Rogers: Through the Years will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s duration. For more information on the exhibit or to plan a visit, go to www.countrymusichalloffame.org.