Kenny Rogers has absolutely enjoyed one of the most iconic careers in the history music. He has sold more than 100 million records and has plenty of Number One hits in a career that spanned seven decades. Still, there are some of his songs that stand above the rest in his catalog.
So today, we compile ten of his most iconic songs. Check out below!
“Lucille” was Kenny Rogers‘ first hit song as a solo artist after leaving his group, The First Edition, and it became a big hit. In 1977, the song made it to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country Songs list, and it stayed there for two weeks. It was also No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.
It won a Grammy, Country Music Association Single of the Year the Academy of Country Music Song and Single of the Year, and the Country Music Association Single of the Year. “Lucille changed everything,” said Rogers.
People loved the song so much that it became top choice on jukeboxes. Rogers said jukebox sales have helped “Lucille” become so popular. “It was listeners like that who grabbed ahold of Lucille and made it a monster hit,” the singer said.
“The Gambler” rose to No. 1 on the country charts and appeared on charts around the world when Kenny Rogers and producer Larry Butler recorded it.
The song was written by Don Schlitz, who by then was a computer operator. It launched his career as a professional songwriter and even won a Grammy for Best Country Song. He has always been grateful to Rogers. “Kenny gave me the freedom to do what I wanted to,” Schlitz said. Without Rogers, we would not have heard of Schlitz composition, just like “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis” or “When You Say Nothing At All” by Keith Whitley and Alison Krauss
Rogers, too, won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal for this song.
Coward of the County
“Coward of the County” is a revenge story-song that addressed some pretty serious topic about gang rape. It is actually a chilling account of a bullied young man, Tommy, taking revenge on three brothers after they rape Tommy’s girlfriend, Becky.
It was the No. 1 country song in the U.S. for three weeks in 1980. Fans were cheering on Tommy as he transformed from being frail to ass-whipper as he tracked down the boys in a local bar. He got his revenge from the rapists and dropped a cool one-liner as the last of the trio fall: “This one’s for Becky.”
Though most who innocently sing-along with the song did not know that it was about rape. “I’m amazed how many people don’t know this—was actually about a rape,” Rogers said.
Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town
“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” was written by another country singer, Mel Tillis. This No. 1 hit in 1969 was surrounded by controversy as it has been falsely assumed to be about a Vietnam War veteran. But contrary to what most people believe, the song wasn’t written about the Vietnam war, even though it has been recorded during that era, and it contains the line “It wasn’t me that started that old crazy Asian war.”
Despite the controversy, the song helped bring Kenny Rogers into the mega-stardom he eventually achieved. The singer also addressed the hullabaloo and said, “We are there, primarily, to entertain. Now, if we can entertain by providing thought-provoking songs, then that’s all to the good.”
You Decorated My Life
Kenny Rogers has released powerful ballads throughout his career, and “You Decorated My Life” is one of his overall best. This classic love song touched millions of hearts, and it stills rocks the younger generation today.
“You Decorated My Life” was written by Debbie Hupp and Bob Morrison. It went on to win a Grammy for Country Song of the Year and helped Morrison to be named Songwriter of the Year in 1980 by the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Islands in the Stream
This song was his first-ever duet with Dolly Parton, and it has topped the charts all over the world and sold millions of copies.
“Islands in the Stream” was written by Barry Gibb for Kenny Rogers to record. However, after singing it for four days, the country legend realized he does not like the song. He raised the issue with Barry Gibb, and the songwriter said, “You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton”.
In one of Kenny Rogers’ interviews, he recalled, “I had a recording studio at the time, and she was downstairs, and my manager Ken Kragen said, ‘I just saw her!’ and I said, ‘Well, go get her!'” Once Parton started singing the song, Rogers said: “Islands in the Stream” was never the same, and it took on a personality of its own.
Buy Me A Rose
Kenny Rogers was undoubtedly the biggest act in country music during the 1980s He has sold out arenas night after night. However, the trends started to change when the 1990s rolled along, and the consistent hitmaker fell off the charts until he released “Buy Me A Rose” in 1999.
The song brought the country legend back to the radio as it hit No. 1. Rogers was 61 years old then and made the history of being the oldest singer to ever have a No. 1 solo hit on the Billboard Country charts.
She Believes in Me
“She Believes in Me” is another hit-song of Kenny Rogers from his album “The Gambler.” It was written by Steve Gibb and told the story of a songwriter who keeps on going, thanks to his supportive woman who believes in his dreams. She helped him to “Go on trying faithfully / And who knows, maybe on some special night / If my song is right / I can find a way.”
The song was Kenny Rogers first hit to top both the Billboard Country and Adult Contemporary charts.
In the fall of 1980, you couldn’t go anywhere and not hear this romantic love song. Well, it’s no surprise as “Lady” is a collaboration of two successful hitmakers. American singer, songwriter, Lionel Richie wrote this song.
“The idea was that Lionel would come from R&B, and I’d come from country, and we’d meet somewhere in pop,” Rogers said. The song topped the Country, Hot 100, and Adult Contemporary charts. And due to its overwhelming success, Richie launched his solo career and released his first album 1982.
Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer
“Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” is a song written by husband and wife Dave Ellingson and Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers and recorded with Kim Carnes as a duet.
Two years before the song hit the charts, country-pop superstar Kenny Rogers approached Carnes and asked her to join him in his project. Rogers wanted to create a concept album that tells the tale of a modern-day cowboy, and he wanted Carnes to write.
“We gave him a name, Gideon Tanner, and we had to make up an entire life story for him,” Carnes said in her interview with The Rolling Stone Country. They made him into a rouge, bad boy who has a girl at home he dearly loves. “But there’s a song where he says, ‘You need a man whose heart is only one place in the night and I’m not it.'”
Carnes completely stepped into the character of Gideon in order to come up with the song.
The late Kenny Rogers passed away at the age of 81. We will surely miss his husky voice that has always exuded sincerity and warmth.