With over 420 hit singles in different genres, Kenny Rogers’ songs made it to the list of country classics. He can even be named a crossover king for his songs to Billboard Hot 100 charts. Although he has been long gone, his beautiful legacy lives on and is celebrated throughout the music industry.
With so many hit songs, it’s hard to pick just twenty-five favorites, but here are the top 25 Kenny Rogers songs of all time!
1. “The Gambler”
This list wouldn’t give justice to the long musical journey of Kenny Rogers if “The Gambler” isn’t included. Although he’s not the first to record the song (that would be Bobby Bare in 1976), the famous singer successfully turned it into his own and paved the way for his career to flourish. It reached the number one spot worldwide in different hit charts and even launched Kenny Rogers’ acting career.
Well, this list wouldn’t be complete without including Kenny Rogers’ first major hit as a solo musician. A year before recording his self-titled album, he had been part of the popular country-rock band The First Edition. “Lucille” helped the legendary singer be a household name, which is evident with its success in the US and overseas, like in the UK. It even has an interesting backstory to boot.
What is one of the biggest commercially successful songs of Kenny Rogers? The answer is his hit song “Lady,” which peaked at the number one spot in US Hot Country Songs, US Billboard Hot 100, and US Adult Contemporary simultaneously in late 1980 to early 1981. This song has strong ties with Lionel Richie and is explicitly written at the country icon’s request. The hit track was Richie’s first production outside of the Commodores.
4. “She Believes In Me”
Being part of the 1978 album that established Rogers’ status as a respected country music artist, “She Believes In Me” is a successful crossover hit that bagged the number one spot on the 1979 Billboard Country Single charts. More so, the chorus’s melody resembles soft rock band Bread’s “Lost Without Your Love” which appears to pique the interest of many listeners. The hit song is a follow-up to “The Gambler,” which is also the track where he took Steve Gibb’s lyrics. It talks about a woman who was behind an aspiring musician.
5. “Coward of the County”
Cinematic – that’s how we can describe Rogers’ 1979 hit “Coward of the County.” It’s like they made an entire movie with just a four-minute song, and they did it successfully too. Billy Ed Wheeler and Roger Bowling wrote the song with dramatic lyrics, but the melody sounds funky. The story depicts a pitch-black tale of a young man who’s trying to adhere to his father’s advice of turning the other cheek. He used this advice when those Gatlin boys “took turns” on his girlfriend, Becky. With this incident, he also learned to “fight when you’re a man.”
6. “Islands in The Stream”
1983 wouldn’t be complete without the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s duet. The two country legends and Hall of Famers are not just singing partners, but they have a special friendship no one can deny. The Bee Gee’s brothers Maurice, Robin Gibb, and Barry Gibb penned the song for Rogers’ Eyes That See in the Dark album. The bubbly personality of Parton and Rogers’ realistic attitude complemented each other, which turned “Islands in the Stream” one of the most unforgettable songs of the century.
7. “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town”
It’s a Kenny Rogers country sad classic with a backstory of a paralyzed man wanting to murder his wife, believing she’s going out to meet her lover in town. The song was first recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1966. The country icon won him the No. 6 ranks on the CMT’s 100 Greatest Cheating Songs of 2004.
8. “Morning Desire”
There was a hot songwriter named Dave Loggins during the 1980s in Nashville. Of course, this made Rogers gain interest in Loggins, so he invited him over as a guest at his house. The country singer was hoping to come out with something special with the man who made the 1970s classic “Please Come To Boston.” As a result, “Morning Desire” came to life, which rivaled the country classics of its time. What’s something you can look forward to is the fantastic guitar solo of jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan.
9. “I Don’t Need You”
Kenny Rogers’ 1981 album Share Your Love proves to be a musical gold mine as it holds singles that went down to music history. After “Lady,” the famous singer-songwriter Lionel Richie penned the song “I Don’t Need You,” that also helped boost the album’s popularity and sale. Rogers was soulful and a breath of fresh air from the monotype country songs of his time that sounds forceful to make a crossover.
10. “Sweet Music Man”
Surprisingly, the singer wrote this song all on his own. It’s a rare phenomenon for Rogers to write a song himself. And that’s why “Sweet Music Man” deserves to be on one of the top spots. The country legend took inspiration from singer Jessi Colter’s situation with the trials going on with her husband, Waylon Jennings. They talked through a plane flight, which led the “Lady” hitmaker to write a song. He made the protagonist a female singer who’s already fading but trying to hold on to fame.
Here are some more of Kenny Rogers songs that need to be included in this list.
11. That Crazy Feeling
12. For You Alone
13. Jole Blon
14. Here’s That Rainy Day
15. Love Lifted Me
16. While The Feeling’s Good
17. Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got)
18. Daytime Friends
19. Love or Something Like It
21. Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer
22. Love the World Away
23. Blaze of Glory
Now, it’s time you put these Kenny Rogers songs on your classic song playlist.