Country music icon Kenny Rogers dead at 81

"You be safe with God and just know that I will always love you," singer Dolly Parton tweeted Saturday.

Kenny Rogers died Friday night at age 81. File Photo by Terry Wyatt/UPI
Kenny Rogers died Friday night at age 81. File Photo by Terry Wyatt/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- Country music icon and occasional actor Kenny Rogers has died, his representative said. He was 81.

Best known for the classic songs "The Gambler," "Lady" and "Islands in the Stream" -- a duet with Dolly Parton -- Rogers was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the winner of three Grammy Awards and six CMA Awards.


He also acted in several Gambler and MacShayne TV movies, as well as the feature film Six Pack and episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Touched By an Angel and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Women.

"The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 p.m. at the age of 81," Rogers' spokesman said in a statement to Rolling Stone early Saturday. "Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family."

The exact cause of his death was not specified.

Variety reported his family is planning a small private service with a public memorial planned for a later date.

The Houston native started a farewell tour in 2015 and played Nashville for the last time in 2017.

Rogers is survived by his wife, Wanda, and five children.

"Kenny was one of those artists who transcended beyond one format and geographic borders," Sarah Trahern, chief executive officer of the Country Music Association, said in a statement. "He was a global superstar who helped introduce country music to audiences all around the world. I had the pleasure of working with him over the years and I'll always remember his graciousness and kind heart. He has left us with his music, some of which will go down as the most memorable performances in country music history. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time."

"You never know how much you love somebody until they're gone. I've had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend," Parton tweeted Saturday. "So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly."

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Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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