Kenny Rogers did not get the hang of fatherhood until after his fifth time as a dad. But, till the end of his life, the music legend made up for the times he did not do his duties by staying true to his fatherhood role.
Before passing on, Kenny Rogers knew the depth to which he needed to uphold fatherhood, and he did not hide it from fans. Kenny fathered five children while he was married five times.
The "The Gambler" singer passed on in 2020 at the age of 81. Kenny was surrounded by his kids as he took his last breath. The star was said to have succumbed to death due to natural causes.
Country music singer, actor and photographer, Kenny Rogers, poses during a 1986 Los Angeles, California, studio portrait session. Rogers was promoting his venture into photography and the release of his "America" photo book | Source: Getty Images
In a career that spanned over six decades, the Country music legend held fatherhood in high priority. During a canceled 2016 tour, Kenny had specifically informed fans that his fatherhood duties came first. He stated:
"I hope my fans understand that I'm a father first and a singer second."
Kenny Rogers performing on stage, 1978. | Source: Getty Images
While it was admirable to see the singer display his role as a wholesome family man, it was not always like this. In fact, Rogers abandoned his duty many years ago when he first became a dad.
KENNY ROGERS' FIRST MARRIAGE
Photo of Kenny ROGERS. | Source: Getty Images
Kenny's first marriage happened when he was 19 years old, and although there was some affection, it could have been for the wrong reasons.
The star recalled how he and his first wife, Janice Gordon, got married because she became pregnant after their first night together. They became man and wife in 1968, but it was a tumultuous union.
For one, Gordon's parents did not approve of him, and they thought he ruined their daughter's life through the marriage. He stated that they tried to break him, and in the end, their marriage crashed.
Kenny Rogers, son Kenny Rogers, Jr. and daughter Carole Rogers attend the 12th Annual People's Choice Awards on March 11, 1986 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images
The couple also had many heated arguments that eventually became the straw that broke the camel's back. In 1959, the marriage took a turn for the worst during one of their arguments.
In his book, "Luck or Something Like It," Kenny wrote that their daughter, Carol Lynne, was six months old then. He described their argument as a "difference of opinion," but it was colossal enough to have them go their separate ways.
Kenny recalled leaving home and returning to see that Gordon was gone. Her mother helped her pack up, and that was the end.
HE ATTEMPTED RECONCILIATION
Kenny Rogers of "Kenny Rogers & The First Edition" recording in the studio on July 7, 1968 in Los Angeles. | Source: Getty Images
Gordon filed for and gained custody of the child following the divorce, with Kenny agreeing to have limited contact. He was granted a two-hour weekly invitation, but he couldn't even meet up with that.
At the time, Kenny was gradually coming into his own as a recognized musician. For this reason, he was away many times and got lost in the euphoria and busy life of Hollywood.
Kenny Rogers and son Christopher Cody Rogers attend 10th Annual American Music Awards on January 17, 1983 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
The "Through The Years" crooner was away many times and drifted away from his child. He ended up seeing her only once in 15 years. Carole was adopted by her mom's second husband, and Kenny was grateful for the presence of a father figure. He stated about staying away:
"That was my promise to them, that I would be her father but he (his ex-wife's second husband) would be her Dad, and I don't want to disrupt that."
The award-winner tried seeing Carole as a 22-year-old adult, but the strain in their relationship has deepened. He invited her and Gordon for a Hawaiian vacation, but that did not do much for reconciliation.
American singer-songwriter and musician Kenny Rogers (1938-2020) and his son, Christopher Rogers, who sits on his father's shoulders, attend the taping of the video and commerical for the 'Hands Across America' campaign benefit, at Center Street in Taft, California, 18th January 1986. | Source: Getty Images
When Kenny welcomed his third child with his wife, Marianne Rogers, this served as a moment of introspection. He thought about the lost years with his older children, Carole and Kenny Jr., and noted that it resulted from his ambitions.
According to Kenny, his quest for fame and success wreaked havoc on his earlier marriages and caused him to neglect his children.
He pondered on how he would always think the kids would still be kids when he was done with his music projects. Project after project, he was away, but it was too late by the time he realized that time waited for no one.
Kenny Rogers with his wife, Marianne Gordon, and son Christopher Rogers, in Los Angeles, California, circa 1990 | Source: Getty Images
He stated that by the time the kids were grown, he realized the chasm that had grown as well. Once speaking with Oprah Winfrey, Kenny admitted that he was selfish while trying to grow his career. He shared that there is indeed a "fine line" between being ambitious and being selfish. Kenny noted:
"I think I was probably selfish…I regret any pain I caused them, but I can't change it."
He opened up about his other families after Gordon. The "Lucille" crooner shared that he had two other wives with kids, but he has been away so often, and it was unfair to them.
KENNY DID NOT WANT MORE KIDS
Kenny Rogers is joined onstage by his wife Wanda Rogers and his sons Justin Rogers and Jordan Rogers at the Classic Center on February 12, 2011 in Athens, Georgia. | Source: Getty Images
Kenny walked down the aisle for the fifth time with heartthrob Wanda Miller in 1997. At the time of their nuptials, the plan was not to have kids. Kenny's reason was that he had been through all that and didn't want any more of it.
Miller readily agreed, perhaps for the euphoria of being in love and wanting to be married. However, Kenny recalled being skeptical about her decision knowing that she might change her mind when she turned 30.
His deductions came to fruition when Miller turned 31, and she convinced him to start a family with her. He initially wanted to oppose it but realized that it would be wrong to rob her of her childbearing years.
Singer Kenny Rogers poses for a portrait in 1979 | Source: Getty Images
So it became that Miller got pregnant, and the couple had not one but two babies. She bore their twins Justin and Jordan in 2004, and they changed Kenny's life.
Gone was the urgency with which he was away building his career and in its place was the mind of a nurturing father. Kenny was scared of witnessing the twins' prime years, and he intentionally created more quality time with them.
The reformed Kenny believed he was best at fatherhood until the end of his life. But, after five attempts, the star acknowledged getting it right and never took it for granted.