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Published: Friday, 8/22/2003

Rogers' show taps music career of over 35 years


Rogers, who turned 65 yesterday, has produced 22 No. 1 hit songs in a career that spans more than 35 years and a variety of genres including folk, pop, and country.

Among his signature songs are “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Lucille,” and “We've Got Tonight.”

A native of Houston, Rogers grew up in a public housing project in a family of eight children.

He began singing in high school in a band called the Scholars and joined the nationally renowned New Christy Minstrels in 1966.

Rogers quit that famous folk group the following year and joined several other former members of the Minstrels to form a new pop band, First Edition.

That group enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom, starting with a performance on The Smothers Brothers hit TV show in January, 1968.

Rogers' stint with First Edition produced such memorable hits as “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In),” “Reuben James,” “Something's Burning,” and “Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town.”

The group became so popular that it hosted its own TV variety show from 1971 to '73.

Rogers began his solo career with the country hit “Lucille” in 1977, and his 1979 hit ballad “The Gambler” made him a multimedia star when he played the part of Brady Hawks in five television miniseries seen by an estimated 100 million viewers.

The singer's latest album, “Back to the Well,” includes a duet with Tim McGraw on “Owe Them More Than That,” a tribute to country-music's trailblazers, and a song featuring country-bluegrass star Alison Krauss in “Love Like This.”

Rogers, who has sold more than 105 million records worldwide and earned four Grammy Awards, also is an accomplished photographer, producing three books of photography, Kenny Rogers' America, Kenny Rogers: Your Friends and Mine, and This Is My Country.

In 1999, the Allen Parkway Village Public Housing Development in Houston where Rogers grew up was renovated and re-dedicated and a scholarship fund for low-income youth was established in the singer's name.

Kenny Rogers will be in concert at 4 and 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin. Tickets are $48 to $65 from the box office, 419-448-8544 or online at www.ritztheatre.org.

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