Famed singer, songwriter, actor, and businessman Kenneth Ray Rogers died Friday. He was 81. Rogers was elected to the County Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Rogers is best known as a country music star; but his career ran the gamut from country to pop to an early career that included jazz, folk, and rock and roll. Rogers charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres. He topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone and sold over 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime.
Rogers was born in Houston, Texas in 1938 the fourth child of eight. His father was a carpenter and his mother was a nurse’s assistant.
Rogers began his recording career in the mid-1950s with the Houston-based group the Scholars. They released “The Poor Little Doggie”. Rogers then released some solo recordings including 1958’s “That Crazy Feeling.” Rogers joined a group with the jazz singer Bobby Doyle. Rogers also worked as a producer, writer and session musician for other performers, including Mickey Gilley and Eddy Arnold.
In 1966 he became a member of the folk ensemble the New Christy Minstrels in which he played double bass and bass guitar as well as was a singer. In 1967, he and several members of the New Christy Minstrels left to found the group the First Edition. They recorded his first major hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”, a psychedelic rock song which peaked at number five on the Billboard charts. Rogers gradually took on more of a leadership role in the group and he moved the group to more of country sound, including 1969’s “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” The group was eventually renamed Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. The group had hits including: “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” “But You Know I Love You”, “Tell It All, Brother”, “Reuben James”, and “Something’s Burning”.
First Edition disbanded in 1976, and Rogers launched his solo career that bridged pop and country. Some of his early top singles included: “Love Lifted Me”, “While the Feeling’s Good”, “Runaway Girl,” “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got).”
He scored a major hit with the single “Lucille” in 1977. It reached number one on the pop charts in 12 countries, selling over five million copies, and establishing Rogers as a superstar. More success followed, including the multi-platinum selling album The Gambler and another international Number 1 single, “Coward of the County.”
In the late 1970s, Rogers teamed up with close friend and Country Music legend Dottie West for a series of albums and duets. The duo won two gold records, two CMA Awards, an ACM nomination, two Grammy nominations and 1 Music City News Award for their two hit albums Every Time Two Fools Collide (No. 1) and Classics (No. 3). Their hits together “Every Time Two Fools Collide”, “Anyone Who Isn’t Me Tonight”, “What Are We Doin’ in Love”, “All I Ever Need Is You”, and “Till I Can Make It On My Own.” West was killed in a car accident in 1991 at age 58. In 1995 he starred as himself, alongside Michele Lee as West, in the CBS biographical film Big Dreams and Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story.
In 1980, he recorded as a duet with Kim Carnes, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” and a duet with Lynda Carter “You and Me” in her television music special. He also partnered with Alabama legend Lionel Ritchie who wrote and produced Rogers’ No. 1 hit “Lady”. Richie also went on to produce Rogers’ 1981 album Share Your Love. Ritchie and Michael Jackson sang backup on Rogers’ hit “Goin back to Alabama.”
His first Christmas album was also released that same year. In 1982, Rogers released the album Love Will Turn You Around. The country music chart topping title song was the theme song of Rogers’ 1982 film Six Pack. In 1983, Rogers recorded “We’ve Got Tonight”, a duet with Sheena Easton.
Rogers work with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees who produced his 1983 hit album Eyes That See in the Dark, featuring “Islands in the Stream”, a duet with Dolly Parton. Rogers reunite with Parton in 1984 for a holiday album, Once Upon a Christmas and TV special Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember (which resulted in a popular video of “Christmas Without You”), as well as a 1985 duet “Real Love.” The two collaborated on occasional projects for years, including a 2013 duet single “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”
Rogers album What About Me? Featured the title track—a trio performance with James Ingram and Kim Carnes—was nominated for a Grammy Award; the single “Crazy” also topped the country charts. Rogers 1985 album The Heart of the Matter was another success. Hits including “Twenty Years Ago”, “Morning Desire”, “Tomb of the Unknown Love”, followed. In 1985 Rogers was one of the 45 artists who recorded the worldwide charity song “We Are the World” to support hunger victims in Africa. That was recorded at Rogers studio in Los Angeles.
In 1988, Rogers won a Grammy Award for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” with Ronnie Milsap—”Make No Mistake, She’s Mine”. Rogers recorded “The Factory” and “Crazy In Love”, “If You Want To Find Love”, and “The Greatest”. His second Christmas album, titled Christmas in America, was released in 1989 for Reprise Records. From 1991–94, Rogers hosted The Real West on A&E, with reruns playing on The History Channel since 1995.
Rogers co-owned and headlined Branson, Missouri’s 4,000 seat Grand Palace Theatre. In 1994, Rogers released his “dream” album titled Timepiece consisted of 1930s/1940s jazz standards, the type of music he had performed in his early days with Bobby Doyle. In 1996, Rogers released an album Vote For Love where the public requested their favorite love songs and Rogers performed the songs. Several of his own hits were in the final version.
In 1999, Rogers scored with the single “The Greatest”. In 1999, Rogers also produced a song, “We’ve Got It All”, specifically for the series finale of the ABC show Home Improvement. In 2000 he topped the country charts at age 61 with the single “Buy Me a Rose.”. Rogers released a new album, Water & Bridges, in March 2006. “I Can’t Unlove You” peaked at No. 17 on the country charts.
On April 10, 2010, a TV special was taped, Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years. Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie were among those set to perform with Rogers during a show celebrating his contribution to country, blues and pop music. In 2013, Rogers recorded a new album with the name You Can’t Make Old Friends. Rogers recorded 65 albums and sold over 165 million records. Rogers’ final concert in Nashville took place on October 25, 2017, at the Bridgestone Arena.
Rogers was also a successful actor. His 1982 he placed a racecar driver in the movie Six Pack. That movie took in more than $20 million at the box office. He starred in several made-for-TV movies such as The Gambler series, Christmas in America, and Coward of the County.
Rogers was married five times and had five children. His fifth marriage was to Wanda Miller on June 1, 1997. They had twin sons and were married for 22 years until his death.
Several artists made their big break in the business opening for Kenny Rogers including Garth Brooks and Montgomery’s Donica Knight.
“Anybody that grew up in the era that I grew up in, Kenny Rogers was a pop artist,” Brooks told Billboard Magazine. “Kenny would tell you if he stood in front of a country crowd, he felt so pop, and if he stood in front of a pop crowd, he felt so country. It wasn’t like Kenny Rogers was one of my heroes. But giving the [opening slot] in the northeast to somebody in a cowboy hat was an opportunity that [Brooks’ manager] Bob Doyle said, “You do not want to miss. There’s no other way you’re going to get up there.”
“Kenny Rogers, by working with him, became one of my heroes,” Brooks said. “Just watching how he treated his band, his guys, everybody, they’d all been with him for 100 years. It was like, “This is how you do it.” I’m really, really thankful that Bob was smart enough to tell me to get on that tour. Then when it came time for entertaining, he was amazing.” “Off the road, he was always with his band and crew. They’d play basketball. They’d do everything. That strengthening, that treating it like a sports team and having team dinners and stuff was great. We have at least one, maybe two guys, off that tour with us because they were such high-quality people.”
“I just enjoyed how honest he was,” Brooks said. “He wasn’t a fake person. Who you saw on the stage was who you saw in sweats offstage.” “There was no way you could be around him and not learn something. He was one of the most successful artists on the planet. If you want to do record sales, look at “The Gambler” and go, “Oh, okay, you can sell that many?” Because I think that sold something stupid like 13 or 14 million. It sure showed all of us that country artists can do this as well.”
Country music fan and Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board member Perry O. Hooper Jr. issued a statement on Rogers’ passing.
“While it is a somber day for American music, and me personally, we all can rejoice in Kenny’s 20 Number 1 hits, three Grammys and his 60 years of touring,” Hooper said.
Hooper saw Rogers perform for the first time when Rogers was the lead singer for First Edition.
“I had the opportunity to watch them perform live their big number 1 hit ‘I Just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.’ at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum,” Hooper said. “Little did I know at the time that I was watching live a performer who would become an American icon.”
“It’s Ironic that some of his biggest hits were duets performed with legends such as Alabama Music Hall of Fame member Lionel Richie, Dollie Parton, Shenna Easton, and Ronnie Milsap,” Hooper continued. “He partnered for two years with country music star Dottie West whose show I was fortunate to catch once again at Garrett Coliseum.”
“In 2016 a year before he stopped touring, I was able to meet him,” Hooper said. “My friend Donica Knight was the opening act for his performance at Montgomery’s MPAC Theater and I met him backstage. He could not have been more gracious and down to earth He showed genuine interest in Donica’s career.”
“‘You got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them’ Will go down as one of the most quoted lines in music history,” Hooper said. “He was one of the rare performers that was a success in three separate genres of music. Folk, Rock and Country. He may be gone but he will never be forgotten.“
COVID-19 kills 228 Alabamians in last three weeks as deaths pass 1,000
At least 1,007 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 since the first case was diagnosed in the state in mid-March.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported Tuesday that more than 1,000 Alabamians have now died from COVID-19. At least 228 of those were killed in just the past three weeks.
At least 1,007 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 since the first case was diagnosed in the state in mid-March, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Another 26 deaths are listed as probably COVID-19 deaths.
By June 1, 18,246 Alabamians had tested positive. By June 17, 26,914 cases had been diagnosed in the state. In the twenty days that have followed, another 18,349 Alabamians have tested positive. As of Tuesday, 45,263 tested positive, with another 888 positive coronavirus tests announced on Tuesday.
Alabama’s coronavirus epidemic was expected to peak in April while the state was under a shelter in place order. By April 30, the state began lifting restrictions to reopen the economy.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters that Alabama and other states may have reopened their economies “too soon.” Since the Memorial Day weekend, cases of coronavirus have risen at an alarming pace. On Monday, hospitalizations for COVID-19 set a new record at 1,016.
The combination of a surge of cases, many Alabamians out and about without masks or face coverings, and large holiday gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend make many public health officials concerned that we could be seeing dramatically higher numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and even deaths moving forward into late July and early August.
Fauci told members of the Alabama press corps that 20 to 40 percent of people who are infected are not showing any symptoms, but they could still be spreading the virus.
Fauci said that wearing a mask or cloth face covering and staying at least six feet away from other people is the best way to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus — or transmitting the virus to other people if you are already infected, but just don’t know it.
Several cities and counties in Alabama have already implemented a mask requirement.
State officials are urging Alabamians to take personal responsibility for their own health.
Thus far the global pandemic has killed 543,596 and known coronavirus cases are rapidly approaching twelve million.
Jones says Alabama is “in very dangerous territory” with the coronavirus
“We are still in very dangerous territory,” Jones said. “We are in the middle of this first wave, not in a second wave.”
As cases continue to mount and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 rise, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, said Tuesday that Alabama remains “in very dangerous territory” when it comes to the coronavirus.
“We are still in very dangerous territory,” Jones said. “We are in the middle of this first wave, not in a second wave.”
As of Tuesday, 45,263 Alabamians have tested positive for the virus. The state has recorded record hospitalizations in the last week.
National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who joined Jones on a press call Tuesday, said he favored requiring masks, requiring social distancing and closing bars as steps that will work on controlling the virus.
“Any covering is better than no masks,” Fauci said. “The best masks are the N95 masks, but we need to reserve those for healthcare workers.”
Fauci said that we have reopened the economy and sometimes it was opened “a bit soon,” adding that the U.S. has recently been reporting more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus per day — ”almost double what it was during our high baseline,” he said.
Fauci said that we should reopen the economy, but it should be done with precautions.
“I don’t think it should be all or none — a complete shutdown or throw caution to the wind,” Fauci said.
Fauci said the coronavirus is being spread through the respiratory route.
“Twenty to 40 percent of the people who are infected have no symptoms at all,” he said. “If you are within six feet of someone who is infected, even if they have no symptoms, you can be infected.”
Jones said that the median age for persons being infected has dropped fifteen years in recent weeks, but Fauci noted that the issue of young people getting infected has two issues: It is true that young people typically have less incidence of serious cases, but young people are still getting sick, being hospitalized and dying, just at rates lower than older populations. But Fauci also said that young people getting infected are propagating this epidemic, which could end up affecting more vulnerable populations.
“We should try to get the schools back open,” Fauci said. Closing the schools, he said, “has ripple effects for the family that override the health effects.”
Fauci said that the death rate for COVID-19 has dropped as the median age of persons infected has dropped and also because hospitals are doing a better job of treating COVID-19 patients, adding that there is no conclusive evidence that the virus has mutated into a less dangerous strain.
Fauci said that schools will reopen with different rules based on the level of infection in the community on a county-by-county basis. Masks may be required at all times, while schools should be working to increase the distance between desks modifying their schedules.
“It is not going to be a one size fit all,” he said.
Fauci was asked if a coronavirus vaccine, when it is developed, will be mandatory.
“I don’t think we have ever had a situation where we mandate a vaccine for the general population,” Fauci said. “That has not ever happened at a national level or even a state level.”
Fauci said that individual employers, like hospitals, may mandate the vaccine, but that he doubted there would be a vaccine mandate for the general population because it would be “encroaching on a person’s ability to make their own choices.”
Fauci said that we already have two therapeutics for COVID-19 for patients in advanced stages, including dexamethasone but more treatments are still needed.
“Over a thousand Alabamians have now died from this,” Jones said. “That is not acceptable.”
“30 percent of Alabama’s cases have come in the last two weeks,” Jones explained.
Most have come since Memorial Day and the weeks since Gov. Kay Ivey began loosening state restrictions. Many citizens are ignoring the warnings by not wearing a mask.
Jones said that four of Alabama’s five largest cities already have county-wide ordinances or the largest city has passed ordinances requiring masks in public places, adding that he has talked with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, where the number of cases have tripled and hospitalizations are up 660 percent.
“We talk about how we are doing in the United States,” Jones said. “Only Brazil has done worse than we have, and we just received news that the president of Brazil has tested positive. The United States has not done a good job.”
Jones said that the number of tests in Alabama that come back positive has gone up in recent weeks. “That shows that we are getting community spread,” he said. The Alabama Political Reporter’s tracking of COVID-19 trends shows that the percentage of tests that are positive has gone up to 14 percent in recent weeks.
Jones said that Perry, Dallas, Bulloch, Marshall, Montgomery and Conecuh counties have been especially hard hit and some of those areas already have access to healthcare problems.
“We have seen some movement from Sen. McConnell” on another coronavirus relief bill, Jones said. “He says that he will have a package.”
While the House has passed a third relief package, that bill is not perfect, Jones said, but he said there are a lot of good things in that bill, the HEROES Act.
“He wants to write this bill himself,” Jones said. “We have no early idea what will be in that package. He is going to write this himself behind closed doors.”
Jones said that another red state has opted to expand Medicaid when voters in Oklahoma passed that last week. Alabama is now among just thirteen states that have not expanded Medicaid.
The Senate will be working on the National Defense Authorization Act as well as the coronavirus relief bill when they return this month, Jones said.
“We have got to take care of our military,” Jones said. “Several amendments will be offered, but I expect that it will pass in a bipartisan way.”
Reporters asked Fauci if Alabama would benefit from a statewide mask requirement.
“I do believe that a statewide mask order is important,” Fauci said. “Masks are important. … We should all be wearing masks when we are out in public.”
Fauci calls on governors in states with surging cases to issue mask orders
As COVID-19 deaths in Alabama passed 1,000 on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci called on governors to issue face mask orders to slow the spread of the virus.
As COVID-19 deaths in Alabama passed 1,000 on Tuesday, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force called on governors to issue face mask orders to slow the spread of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, when asked by APR whether he’d like to see governors in states with surging cases institute statewide orders to wear masks, said yes.
“I do believe a statewide mask order is important because there is a variability in people taking seriously or even understanding the benefit of masks,” Fauci said during a press conference, hosted by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama on Tuesday. “Masks make a difference. It is one of the primary fundamental tools we have.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on June 30 extended her “safer-at-home” order until July 31, but declined to institute any further mandates despite surging new cases and hospitalizations.
Fauci also said that social distancing and the closure of bars are important to communities looking to slow the spread.
“Fundamental things like masking, distancing, washing hands, closing bars — if you do that, I think it will be a giant step toward interfering with the spread in your community,” Fauci said.
At least 1,007 people have died statewide from COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
New daily COVID-19 cases in Alabama dipped below 900 for the first time in six days, but just barely, with 888 new cases on Tuesday. Thirty-one percent of the state’s total confirmed cases have come within the last two weeks.
Alabama’s hospitals on Monday were caring for more COVID-19 patients than at any time since the pandemic began.
UAB Hospital had 86 coronavirus patients on Monday, the highest the hospital had seen. Huntsville Hospital had 72 COVID-19 patients on Monday, and the surge in cases prompted the hospital to cancel elective surgeries and convert three surgical floors to COVID-19 care, according to AL.com.
At East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika there were 41 COVID-19 patients on Monday, which was the highest the hospital has seen in weeks and not far from the hospital’s peak of 54 patients on April 11.
The average age of those becoming infected with coronavirus has dropped by 15 years since the beginning of the pandemic, Fauci said, which has lowered the overall death rate due to the virus, as younger people usually fair better, but not if that young person has an underlying medical condition.
“We are now getting multiple examples of young people who are getting sick, getting hospitalized and some of them even requiring intensive care,” Fauci said, adding that even those young people who have coronavirus but are asymptomatic can spread the virus to others, who may be more compromised.
Fauci warned against pointing to the overall declining death rate and becoming lax about coronavirus, and said that “it’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.”
“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency,” Fauci said.
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told APR on Monday that it may take several weeks to learn whether the increasing number of those hospitalized in Alabama will worsen and require ICUs and ventilators, and possibly lead to a rise in deaths.
“We just don’t know yet. We don’t know which way we’re going to go,” Williamson said Monday. “We just know we got a whole lot more cases than we had a month ago, and we’ve got a lot more hospitalizations than we had a month ago.”
Asked about his thoughts on the state of the virus in Alabama, Fauci said that what’s alarming is the slope of the curve of new daily cases.
“When you see a slope that goes up like that you’ve got to be careful that you don’t get into what’s called an exponential phase, where every day it can even double, or more,” Fauci said. “You’re not there yet, so you have an opportunity, a window to get your arms around this, and to prevent it from getting worse.”
Speaking on what’s become the politicization of the wearing of face masks, Fauci said that politicization of any public health matter has negative consequences. President Donald Trump does not wear face masks in public, prompting concern from many that by doing so he’s suggesting to the public that masks aren’t needed. The issue is divided rather sharply along partisan lines.
In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, two-thirds of voters, 67 percent, said Trump should wear a face mask when he is out in public, but while 90 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents say the president should wear a mask in public, just 38 percent of Republicans said the same.
“I mean, obviously today, it’s no secret to anybody who lives in the United States that we have a great deal of polarization in our country, unfortunately,” Fauci said. “We hope that changes, but there’s no place for that when you’re making public health recommendations, analysis of data, or any policies that are made. That will always be a detriment to do that.”
GOP candidate Tommy Tuberville leads Trump “boat parade” in Orange Beach
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville rode in the lead boat in a “boat parade” on Sunday in Orange Beach, celebrating Independence Day and the launch of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
Hundreds of boats participated in the Trump parade in the Perdido Pass area. WKRG TV estimates that more than 8,000 people joined. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores boats joined boats from Pensacola and Dauphin Island.
Trump supporter and Alabama Republican Executive Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. was also present.
“It was Awesome having Coach Tommy Tuberville on The TRUMP Boat at Orange Beach Alabama,” Hooper said. “Tommy was a Great Coach and he will be a Great US Senator. It’s Great To Be A TRUMP/ TUBERVILLE AMERICAN. Everybody was so Happy cheering for The President and Tommy on! Fun Day!”
Hooper is a former state representative from Montgomery.
Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. The Arkansas native lives in Auburn.
President Donald Trump spoke at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday.
“Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said. “I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”
Trump accused opponents of trying to dismantle America.
“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump alleged. “In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”
“President Trump has given several good Speeches,” Hooper said. “This Speech was by far his best! It was straight up AWESOME! His speech was all about the Greatness of America! President Trump loves our Country and its great History. President Reagan has given some of the best speeches ever. This speech topped Reagan’s best. As for Perry O. Hooper Jr., I would get in a foxhole and fight for him to the end. God Bless President Donald J. Trump and GOD BLESS THE USA!”
Trump faces a stiff challenge from former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading in the polling.
Tuberville has been endorsed by Trump in the July 14 Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate. Tuberville faces former Sen. Jeff Sessions.