Kenny Rogers is known for being a decorated musician who pushed country music into the mainstream, packed arenas, and topped radio charts along the way. Kenny Rogers songs such as “The Gambler,” “Lady,” and “Islands in the Stream” endeared him to music lovers around the world, winning him awards far and wide.
But in addition to his illustrious musical career, the three-time Grammy Awards winner is many things. Check out these facts about him.
1. He’s a native of Houston, Texas.
Born Kenneth Ray Rogers on August 21, 1938, the country singer is the fourth among eight children to a nurse’s assistant mother and a carpenter father.
2. He once played double bass in a jazz group.
When Kenny Rogers started playing nightclubs in Houston in the 1950s and 1960s, he joined a jazz group – called the Bobby Doyle Three – where he had to learn how to play bass. He worked for the band for ten years, where they worked for three different clubs every day. Rogers said they were highly successful and that he was making a lot of money when he was only nineteen.
3. He played a crucial role in forming the American rock band Eagles.
In the late sixties, Rogers took the band’s founding member Don Henley from small-town Texas under his wing. Soon enough, Rogers helped the act sign a record label and even produced its first album. “Kenny was a generous and caring man, a wise mentor to so many of us,” Henley said.
4. He loved to play tennis.
For a time in the late 1970s, Rogers was so obsessed with tennis that he would play the sport eight hours a day – and against some of the world’s best players. In fact, he had tennis professionals travel with him on the road and even developed a national ranking.
5. He immersed himself in interior design.
In 2003, Rogers and his business partner Jim Weinberg formed Kenji Design studios and won contracts to design public spaces, model units, graphics, and employee attire in northwest Atlanta. Rogers revealed that his design skills were self-taught by doing twenty houses on his own.
6. He’s an entrepreneur.
In 1991, Rogers collaborated with a former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO to launch the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters.
7. He loved photography, too.
Rogers admitted that when he impulsively gets involved with something, he gets obsessed with it – and that’s what happened with photography. He published a photobook Kenny Rogers’ America, a tour of US landmarks. He followed it up with Your Friends and Mine, which is a collection of celebrity portraits including Elizabeth Taylor, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, and more.
8. He was married five times.
Rogers married four times before finding the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. In 1997, Rogers married restaurant hostess Wanda Miller. They were married for twenty-two years until his death in 2020. The couple was also blessed with twin sons, Justin and Jordan. Rogers has three more children from his previous marriages.
Indeed, Kenny Rogers has lived an eventful life and career. He had a wide array of adventures, many of which are not well known to his fans.