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April 30

Why Did Willie Nelson Turn Down Kenny Rogers Offer To Sing “The Gambler?”

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Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers have a lot of things in common. For one, they are both celebrated as country music icons. Their music has changed and shaped the current music scene with their pompous, influential, and moving songs. But do you know that something interesting happened between the two famous musicians that changed the future of one of them?

You might be curious now what is this major shift made significant change. Well, that involves Kenny Rogers‘ hit track “The Gambler.” Despite being 87 years old, Willie Nelson can’t still recall the backstory of that song as clear as day. He dropped a few nuggets in an interview with The Today Show’s Jenna Bush about his plans of tribute and some revelations from the past. One of these revelations includes Kenny Rogers, who was a great friend to him.

Before recording “The Gambler,” Kenny actually offered the song to Willie. The former asked the latter to try and record it. They were perched somewhere where the country legend couldn’t remember the place. Kenny was trying his best to coax him into releasing his own version, so he played it. 

Then after some time, Willie realized he didn’t want to do the song and the reason? He doesn’t want another long-form piece. The country crooner was already doing “The Red Headed Stranger” every night, over 100 verses. Also, Willie Nelson’s songs are traditional and full of country life, so he opts to pass because it’s similar to the material he was doing. Of course, it’s a great song to just pass out, so Kenny did it, and the rest is history.

When Willie had said that he never had any regrets and that it’s his friend’s song all the way, now, it’s one of the best Kenny Roger’s songs of all time.


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kenny rogers, Willie Nelson


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