In his best-known song, Kenny Rogers talked about knowing “when to walk away.” Perhaps he hasn’t quite yet reached that point. Promoting his new album Water & Bridges on American Idol last week, the 67-year-old country legend introduced himself to a new generation of fans—and startled some longtime followers with his new, wrinkle-free look. Rogers, who lives in Atlanta with his wife, Wanda, 39, and 21-month-old identical twin sons Jordan and Justin, opened up about parenthood and plastic surgery with PEOPLE’s Michael McCall.
Let’s cut to the chase. Have you had plastic surgery?
Yes, I have. I did a lot more a long time ago. Dolly [Parton] used to kid me about it. But like everybody I blame the media for it. The first six years of my career, I got more comments on my weight than on my singing. So I think I became so self-conscious that I started working on it harder.
Then last year I had so many lines coming in at the side of my eyes up here. So I went in and got my eyes done, and I’m not happy about it. [The surgeon] is going to go in and fix that for me. They’re too tight around the eyelids for me. It drives me crazy. I wake up in the morning, and Wanda says, “You look great.” But I know what I want to look like. If we can fix that, then I’ll be glad I did it. If we can’t fix it, I’ll regret it or get used to it.
I think when you’re in the public eye, you feel a pressure to stay younger looking. I guess that’s what makes the guys who don’t do it so special. I’ve always said that gray hair looks good on everybody but yourself. To me, it makes me look old.
Does having toddlers keep you young?
Boy, has it ever changed my life. They say that twins at my age will either make you or break you. Right now I’m leaning towards break. I would kill for the energy they’ve got. I’m embarrassed to tell you I can’t tell them apart. Jordan has a little freckle in the middle of his forehead. I have to turn them around to see who it is.
How is Wanda handling the twins?
She’s doing great now. About three months into it she said, “Kenny, I can’t do this.” I said, “They’re not like cats. You can’t take them back.” Three days later she was up all night with Jordan. She came in the next morning and said, “You know what, I can do this.”
You’re also in the middle of a big move.
I just sold my 26,000-sq.-ft. house in Georgia. I’ve bought 7½ acres, and we’re going to start from scratch. In the meantime we’ve moved into this condominium. So we’ve gone from 26,000 sq. ft. to a 2,800-sq.-ft. condo, with two boys and a nanny. But you know what? I think I like it. We were going to scale down this house we’re building to a mere 8,000 sq. ft., but then I’d look at the plans and say, “Those halls look narrow, let’s open it up.” Next thing you know, we’re up to 21,000 sq. ft. We’ve got it back down to 11,000—on the main floor.
How does it feel to go on the road these days?
I’m not sure I want to be a star anymore. [Laughs] I owe it to my record company to do the best I can, but boy, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. I work for the most part on the weekends. I run out and do a couple of shows and go home. If it’s on the East Coast, Wanda and the boys will go with me. We’re like the Griswolds when we get on that bus. It’s an adventure.