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Country singer Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers’ Best

by Kirk Fox

Country music icon Kenny Rogers left all of us fans with so many memorable songs. We remember his greatest here.


“That Crazy Feeling”

Rogers had a longer singing career than most people realize. The Houston, Texas native released the rockabilly single “That Crazy Feeling” on Kix Records in 1957 as a teenager. The song was then released nationally in 1958 by the Carlton Label, making it to No. 51 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in May 1958.


“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”

After his early solo career fizzled out, Rogers joined jazz group The Bobby Doyle Three. He then joined the New Christy Minstrels as a singer and bass player.

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Feeling constrained by performing with the Minstrels, Rogers and fellow members Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Thelma Camacho left the group and joined with drummer Mickey Jones to form The First Edition in 1967. They signed with Reprise Records and would later be billed as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.

Combining rock, country, and psychedelic styles, the group had their first hit in 1968 with “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” The psychedelic pop song made it to No. 5 on the Hot 100. Country legend Glen Campbell played guitar on the studio recording.


“But You Know I Love You”

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s second hit came in 1969 with a song written by band member Mike Settle. “But You Know I Love You” made it into the Top 20 of the Hot 100.


“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”

Though the song “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” was written by country music legend Mel Tillis, the First Edition’s version was the one that became a hit, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Rogers started to move the band in a country rock direction and this song was their first hit in that style.


“Something’s Burning”

The success of “Ruby” led Kenny Rogers and the First Edition to their most fruitful period. The song “Something’s Burning” was a No. 11 hit for the band in 1970.


“Tell It All Brother”

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition had a timely hit song later in 1970, just a few weeks after National Guard troops shot and killed four students during an anti-war protest. Lyrics include the line “Did you ever kick a good man. When he was down, just to make yourself feel strong?”


“Heed the Call”

Toward the end of 1970, the First Edition had their seventh Top 40 hit with “Heed the Call.” They performed the song on the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”


“Rollin’ On the River” Medley

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition hosted a television music variety show from 1971 to 1973 called “Rollin’ On the River” (the title would later be shortened to “Rollin'”). Filmed in Canada and syndicated in the United States, the series featured guests such as Ike and Tina Turner and Jim Croce. Here the First Edition play a medley of songs from Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.


“Lucille”

The hits began to dry up for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Original guitarist and vocalist Terry Williams left the group in 1975 and then original drummer Mickey Jones left to start his acting career. Rogers tried to keep the First Edition going with new players but it did not last. Feeling financial woes, he agreed to do a television commercial for guitar lesson records.

In 1976, Rogers signed a solo recording deal with United Artists. Working with producer Larry Butler, Rogers changed his sound to a middle of the road pop country style and soon became a superstar. His debut album, “Love Lifted Me” was a moderate success, reaching No. 28 on the country chart. His follow-up, the self-titled “Kenny Rogers,” was released in 1977 and included “Lucille,” a huge hit that went to No. 5 on the Hot 100 and propelled the album to No. 1.


“Daytime Friends”

“Daytime Friends” was Roger’s third solo album. Released in 1977, the LP was a success, reaching No. 1 on the country music chart and producing two Top 10 singles. The title track was No. 1 on the country singles chart.


“Every Time Two Fools Collide”

In 1978, Kenny Rogers and Dottie West became one of the most popular country music singing duos. Their debut album, “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” was a smash hit, reaching No. 1 on the country chart in the spring of 1978.

There are conflicting stories about how the two got together. Both were signed with United Artists and working with producer Larry Butler at the time. According to Rogers, he arrived for a recording session and West was still finishing hers. He and West started talking and thought it would be worth recording together.


“The Gambler”

Rogers’ next album, “Love Or Something Like It,” was a success. But it was the album after that would give Rogers his signature song.

“The Gambler” was the title track of the album Rogers released in December 1978. Written by songwriter Don Schlitz, the song is about a gambler who gives advice to the narrator, a man down on his luck.

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

In 2018, “The Gambler” was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”

The song was so popular it led to Kenny Rogers starring in five television movies between 1980 and 1994 as the fictional gambler, Brady Hawkes.

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