Country music star Kenny Rogers passed away at age 81, surrounded by his family. The Hall of Famer's musical career spanned six decades but was marred but his scandalous life.
Multi-talented Kenny Rogers died in March 2020 at home in Georgia from natural causes. His rep confirmed that he took his last breath peacefully under the care of hospice and had his family around him.
The legendary country music singer became a global sensation as an actor, a businessman, a photographer, and a philanthropist. He featured in 30 No. 1 singles across the US in three genres, country, pop, and adult contemporary charts from 1977 to 1999.
Country music singer Kenny Rogers performing during the 2017 CMA Music Festival on June 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. / Source: Getty Images
Rogers had three Grammy Awards, eight ACM Awards, and five CMA Awards under his belt. The musician released 65 albums and sold 165 million records globally with hit songs like "The Gambler" and "Lucille."
His most unforgettable duet, "Islands in the Stream," with Dolly Parton, made the world take notice of his diversity as a country singer.
Kenny Rogers performing on stage while playing the guitar wearing a velvet blazer paired with a shirt in 1978. / Source: Getty Images
The Texas native officially retired in 2015 but had his final concert in 2017 at Nashville Bridgestone Arena. Fellow A-List stars such Lionel Richie, Chris Stapleton, and Parton were in attendance.
Rogers previously admitted that part of growing old had affected his mobility, hence closing off his career after 60 years of performances.
LIFE OBSTACLES THAT ROGERS HAD TO ENDURE BEFORE FINDING HAPPINESS
Pictured: An up-close of songwriter and record producer, Kenny Rogers. / Source: Getty Images
In his book, "Luck or Something Like It," Rogers details his scandalous personal life, difficult upbringing, five marriages, and friendships, not forgetting a sex scandal.
During an interview with Fox News.com in April 2016, the songwriter openly talked about his first marriage at a young age. The first person he had intercourse with, Janice Gordon, fell pregnant, and they had to marry in 1958:
"You know what. I loved her. At 19, I thought, 'This is ok with me.'"
Pictured: Country music Hall of Famer Kenny Rogers. / Source: Getty Images
But Gordan's parents accused him of ruining their daughter's life and had it in for him, and their marriage did not work out. Rogers said it was disheartening because they could have made their marriage work. After all, he was not afraid of commitment.
He and Gordan divorced in 1960. The pair welcomed a daughter named Carole, and when asked whether he kept in contact with her, he said no.
Kenny Rogers of the music group "Kenny Rogers & The First Edition" recording in the studio on July 7, 1968 in Los Angeles. / Source: Getty Images
Though Rogers had promised that he would play the father figure role in his child's life, Gordan's second husband took over and was a loving stepdad. Moreover, Gordan's parents were not pleased with his passion for becoming a musician, assuming he would not amount to anything in life.
"Once they saw that I wasn't going to change my career ambitions away from music, they wanted little to do with the marriage, Rogers explained, adding:
"They wrote me off as a long-term breadwinner, and our marriage turned sour and lasted only until the next October of 1959."
After his first marriage dissolved, Rogers quickly remarried and wed Jean Rogers in 1960. He admitted to the Independent. i.e., in June 2006, that he loved being married.
However, that second union was also short-lived. After three years of being husband and wife, Rogers and Jean divorced in 1963. The entrepreneur later revealed:
"We finally realized, 'This isn't right,' and in the end, it was boring for her and me."
Kenny Rogers with his wife Margo Anderson at Heathrow airport on March 24, 1970 in London, United Kingdom. / Source: Getty Images
A romantic at heart, Rogers committed for the third time when he wed Margo Anderson in 1963. His third marriage lasted 11 years, and the couple welcomed a son named Kenny Jr.
During the first nine years of his marriage with Anderson, Rogers revealed that there were some excellent moments, but it was only in the last few that things took a twisted turn.
He disclosed the reason for their divorce in 1975, sharing it was because he was away from home a lot: "I was touring a lot, which is part of what killed the marriage."
When things were smooth sailing between them, it could have been better. However, when they were terrible, "Stand back. She loved to regurgitate problems, things that happened from years before," Rogers revealed.
HIS FOURTH WIFE - MARIANNE GORDON
Kenny Rogers and Marianne Gordon photographed after their nuptials at the Rogers home. / Source: Getty Images
Then came along his fourth wife, Marianne Gordon, whom he married in 1977. When the pair met, they were each going through ugly divorces. Naturally, they took things slow when they started dating.
Rogers and the actress welcomed a son together named Christopher in December 1981. Gordon stopped touring with her husband when they became parents, and they spent less time together.
Kenny Rogers with is wife Marianne Gordon at the The Worked Hunger Media Awards in 1982. / Source: Getty Images
The couple was married nearly17 years
before they divorced in 1993. Their divorce cost a whopping $60 million, deemed one of the most expensive celebrity divorce settlements.
Stunningly, the "We've Got Tonight," singer said the mother of his child deserved every penny because she stood by him during difficult times.
MEETING HIS ONE TRUE LOVE - WANDA MILLER
Kenny Rogers and wife Wanda backstage at the Plymouth Theater. / Source: Getty Images
Despite that costly experience, the "Lady" singer married for the fifth time to Wanda Miller in 1997 after meeting in the mid-90s. Though Miller was 28 years younger than him, it did not matter.
In fact, Rogers said she was his soulmate because she understood all his needs. The pair were married until his passing, and during their decades-long marriage, they became parents to twin sons Jordan and Justin.
Moreover, his fourth ex-wife Gordan was supportive of his new marriage. Rogers noted that while former wives could make the current wife's life miserable, Gordon was an exception. "She sees I'm happy, and that makes her happy," he explained.
Kenny Rogers with wife Wanda Miller and their twin sons Justin and Jordan Rogers during as his induction into The Nashville Music City Walk of Fame at Nashville Music City Walk of Fame on October 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. / Source: Getty Images
Initially, Rogers and the love of his life planned on not having kids, but everything else changed when Miller turned 35. It dawned on her that she would miss out on the experience of being a mom.
When the pair were on a trip to China, Miller called her spouse and asked if they could give parenting together a try and would let it go if it did not turn out in their favor. She revealed:
"He graciously agreed! He said, 'Yes, I would never want to cause you to miss out on your childbearing years.' So, when we returned to Atlanta, we gave it our all."
Later, the couple discovered their only chance of welcoming kids together was through IVF because Miller had a low ovarian reserve. But the couple came across issues with the procedure. They only had less than a 13 percent chance of success.
But things worked in their favor after only retrieving three eggs instead of 13 for fertilization. The doctor advised them to do a pregnancy test after fourteen days, but the anxious duo could not wait any longer and took the test after five more days following their visit.
Rogers and Miller found out they were expecting during Thanksgiving. Finally, after having their boys, Rogers said, as a husband and a proud father, "this has truly been a wonderful experience for both of us."
The father of five said he did not want to have any more children at first while married to Miller, and she also felt that being a mother was not on the cards for her. However, he had subconsciously known that eventually, she would have a change of heart.
Miller had no kids from previous relationships, and he did not want her to have regrets about marrying him when he was no longer alive. The couple was elated upon learning they were having twins. Rogers was in his sixties then.
ROGERS RETIRED TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS BROOD
When the music superstar announced his retirement in May 2017, he knew what he wanted to do with his free time. After making millions in the 1970s, Rogers desired to build an enormous house with an 18-hole golf course, and he fitted the terrace with automated sprinklers.
The beloved country music singer and Miller have a French-style home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, where they raised their children. The abode has greenery around the yard and perfectly manicured trees in the driveway.
The duo has a spacious white-unit cupboard kitchen which hosted many family and friends when the lovebirds celebrated Thanksgiving in November 2019. It boasts an outdoor hot tub where the couple took a family snapshot with their young sons.
In what seemed like another kitchen, the open-plan space had a brown kitchen unit leading to the sitting area where Rogers and Miller, seated on a brown couch, had guests for the 4th of July 2019.
In May 2019, the pair and their sons were pictured on their golf course with a fish pond in the background for a Mother's Day Celebration. In July 2021, Miller posted a collage of their teenage kids in the swimming pool, with one image featuring her in her perfectly lit kitchen.
As we can see, Rogers always tried to support his wives. Regardless of all the four marriages ending in divorce, he admitted his faults in them coming to an end and took the blame:
"I take the blame for it because I think it's a man's responsibility to protect the relationship, and I didn't do that."
In addition, in October 2012, Rogers spoke candidly about his aging during an interview with AARP.org and called it a privilege. "We've all had our turn at life. Now, all we can do is guide others through," Rogers quipped.
On the first anniversary of his death, his wife Miller posted an emotional tribute to him on Instagram, accompanied by family pictures. Miller said their lives changed forever since losing her beloved husband, adding they would forever love him.
Rogers was not always the best father to one of his five kids. He kept his distance from his eldest child Carole and said her stepdad would do a better job. His second child Kenny Jr. Is an actor and composer.
His second son Christopher is an actor and a director, and his most recent project was a short film called "Two If By Sea," which he directed in 2018. Meanwhile, Rogers' youngest sons, Justin and Jordan, tagged along with him on his final tour.
Kenny Rogers posing backstage at Route 66 Casino's Legends Theater on October 16, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. / Source: Getty Images
When Rogers announced he was retiring, the songwriter shared he hoped fans would understand that he was a father first before anything else. He told Closer Weekly that he had missed a lot of milestones in his children's lives.
He added that he wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. Rogers also worried about how long he would have to live to be there for them. Besides being a supportive family man, the renowned star experienced some bumps in his long-filled life during his road to superstardom.
Kenny Rogers performing in concert at Golden Nugget Casino on December 9, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. / Source: Getty Images
In his memoir, "Luck or Something Like It," he touched on sex scandals that involved younger women. In the early '90s, three women filed lawsuits against Rogers and alleged he conned them into playing kinky phone-sex games via People magazine.
One female claimed he lured her to a hotel using a possible TV role and made sexual advances. "I thought phone sex was the safest sex there was, only to get hammered by it," Rogers told Fox News, adding he thought the women were his friends.
Moreover, he omitted details about his plastic surgery in his book, which he came clean about in an interview with People in 2006. Rogers said he was unhappy about the procedure done on his eyes.
He revealed his publishers advised against writing on it because it would leave an everlasting tainted image that would have overshadowed his immense success and life story.