Was Kenny Rogers A Gambler?
Kenny Rogers - The Gambler
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No I'm not speaking of gambling in the sense you might think of. But I think you could say that Kenny Rogers was a gambler with his career, since he went through several music genres before settling on country/pop. He's a favorite with fans around the world, with not all of them in the same musical demographic. Yet, even with all those hits and the stardom he's experienced, he's said to have told a BBC interviewer that The Gambler is his personal favorite of his many hits. Could it be because it reminds him of the days when he was "gambling" on making a musical career, and wondering which way to go?
The Gambler's Story
Story songs are always my favorites, and Kenny Rogers does them so well. In The Gambler he tells the story of an old time gambler giving the benefit of his experience to a young novice, as they're on a train "bound for nowhere." Before the song ends the old gambler dies in his sleep, leaving the young one with good advice, "in his final words I found an ace that I could keep," about "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em." The song was so successful that it hit #1 in 1979 and remained there for a lengthy number of weeks, earning a Grammy for Song of the Year.
"The Gambler" Trivia
Country legend Johnny Cash also recorded "The Gambler," but Rogers' version was released first and is still the top recording of the song today.
Parts of the song have been used in numerous TV shows such as The Muppets, King of the Hill, the BBC series Blackpool, and The Office among others.
Lately Rogers sings it in a Geico commercial.
It's used as the official anthem in the Gunnery Trade of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Program.
The song was used in 2010 in the series Supernatural.
Kenny Rogers A "Cross Over" Artist
Kenny Rogers has been in the music business since the 1960s and seems to reinvent himself each decade. Every year, there are new selections to choose from as he transcends boundaries, appealing to both pop and country music fans. Rogers was a "cross over" artist, before the term was invented. He recently put out a new album, and I've included it here. It's called "You Can't Make Old Friends."
Not Many Songs Can Boast of a Spin Off TV Show
The Gambler was such a huge musical hit, that it spun off a TV serial with the same name. Kenny Rogers stars as a professional gambler named Brady Hawkes who has various adventures. This show ran from 1980 to 1994, with five installments, each one featuring a different story built around The Gambler. There were also guest stars we had come to know through other series such as Gene Barry as Bat Masterson and Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp. Reba McEntire, a popular country singer, also showed up in the 4th episode and made it even better.
Rogers list of hits is legendary. If you liked him country, you probably liked him doing pop, if you liked him doing pop, you probably liked him when he did jazz. He has a presence onstage that takes you into his hands and doesn't turn loose until the performance is over...and you find yourself wishing it wasn't. All that magnetism carries over into his recordings, a few of which I've listed below for your browsing pleasure.