'The Gambler' folds his cards: Kenny Rogers dead at 81

Country music icon had many crossover hits in award-winning career.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers performs in New Jersey in 2017.
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Last Updated:
March 21, 2020 - 8:47am

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Kenny Rogers, the silver-bearded country crooner with a knack for songs like "The Gambler" that crossed over to pop, has died at age 81.

Roger passed away late Friday at his home in Sandy Springs, Ga., where he was in the care of hospice, his family announced on Twitter.

"The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81," the tweet read. "Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family."

Born into public housing in Houston, Rogers assembled a rags-to-riches story to become one of country music's first crossover stars, commanding the music stageans screen while cranking out duets with the likes of Dolly Parton, Sheena Easton, Dottie West and Kim Carnes.

Over his career, Rogers won three Grammys and six Country Music Awards and scored two dozen No. 1 hits.

His collaboration with pop star Lionel Ritchie on the song "Lady" -- Ritchie wrote it and Rogers sang it -- was just one of many successes during a career that dominated music in the 1970s and 1980s.

His 1978 hit "The Gambler" swept across both country and pop charts and became the fodder for a movie. His other hits included "Islands in the Stream," "Lucille," and "You Decorated My Life."

Rogers retired from entertainment in 2017.

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