Happy birthday, Kenny Rogers. The American singer and creator of the best-selling albums "The Gambler" and "Kenny" turned 75 this week. Mr. Rogers has sold more than 130 million records worldwide and charted a song in each of the past six decades. In 1991, he launched a chain of chicken restaurants. He is the father of identical twins. Mr. Rogers will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year in the Modern Era Artist category. The List this week looks at his 10 best songs.
- 10. "The Gambler" (1978) — Mr. Rogers turned this No. 16 hit song into a TV film character in one of the highest-rated television movies in history that spawned four sequels. He won a Grammy for the song in the best male country vocal performance category. "The Gambler" was released in the United Kingdom in 2007 and reached No. 22 on the charts after the England rugby team adopted it as its unofficial World Cup song.
- 9. "We've Got Tonight" (1983) — Mr. Rogers recorded this Bob Seger classic as a duet with Scottish singer Sheena Easton. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a No. 1 country hit. Mr. Seger had a No. 13 hit with the song in 1978. Said Mr. Rogers: "Some of the biggest songs I've had are duets with women, but the only Grammy [for a duet] I've ever got was a duet with a guy." That was in 1987 in the country category with Ronnie Milsap for "Make No Mistake, She's Mine."
- 8. "Through the Years" (1982) — Mr. Rogers sang this song at the 1983 Grammy Awards. It peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the country charts.
- 7. "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer" (1980) — Kim Carnes, famous for her No. 1 hit "Bette Davis Eyes," co-wrote this song, which she recorded in a duet with Mr. Rogers. The tune peaked at No. 4 in the United States. In 1966, Miss Carnes and Mr. Rogers were members of The New Christy Minstrels.
- 6. "Lucille" (1977) — This was Mr. Rogers' first solo hit after breaking away from the First Edition the previous year. It also was his first hit after a seven-year absence from the charts. The song reached No. 5 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for best male country vocal performance. The song did better overseas and scored Mr. Rogers his first No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom. Ironically, Mr. Rogers' mother was named Lucille.
- 5. "Lady" (1980) — Written and produced by Lionel Richie, this was Mr. Rogers' first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his only top-charter as a solo artist. It remained six weeks at the top of the charts. As a country entry, "Lady" was Mr. Rogers' 10th chart-topping hit. Mr. Rogers collected 20 No. 1 country hit songs between 1977 and 2000.
- 4. "She Believes in Me" (1979) — This song was written by Steve Gibb, the son of Bee Gees' Barry Gibb. It peaked at No. 5 in the U.S. and was a No. 1 hit on the country charts. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating scored a No. 2 hit in the United Kingdom with the song in 2004.
- 3. "Coward of the County" (1979) — This song was co-written by Nashville songwriter Roger Bowling, who also co-wrote "Lucille" and "The Gambler." Mr. Rogers said the song was about rape. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top 100. The Britons loved this morality tale, and it scored Mr. Rogers his second and final No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom.
- 2. "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (1969) — Written by Mel Tillis about a paralyzed veteran of a "crazy Asian war" (Vietnam), this song was a hit for country western singer Johnny Darrell in 1967. Kenny Rogers and the First Edition recorded the song two years later. It peaked at No. 6 in the United States and No. 2 in the United Kingdom, where it was Mr. Rogers' first single on the charts. At the time, Mr. Rogers had a hippie image.
- 1. "Islands in the Stream" (1983) — Mr. Rogers scored his second No. 1 hit with this excellent Bee Gees song in a duet with Dolly Parton. The chemistry was perfect. It was the first single from Mr. Rogers' "Eyes That See in the Dark" album and sold 2 million copies in the United States. The Bee Gees originally wrote this song for Marvin Gaye. The title came from an Ernest Hemingway story.
Bonus track: "You Decorated My Life" (1979) — This was the lead single from the album "Kenny" and reached No. 7 in the U.S. charts and No. 1 on the country charts.
Compiled By John Haydon
Sources: The Express, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, songfacts.com, Wikipedia, officialcharts.com
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