Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton and More Mourn Kenny Rogers' Death: 'Rest in Peace Gambler'
Rogers died “peacefully at home from natural causes,” at the age of 81, his family wrote in a statement that was shared online early Saturday morning.
The star’s “Islands in the Stream” collaborator and friend Dolly Parton shared a tribute following the news of his death.
“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,” she wrote.
“I can’t express on twitter the impact Kenny Rogers the artist and the man had on me. He was always very kind and fun to be around. Rest In Peace Gambler…” wrote Blake Shelton, referencing Rogers’ signature song “The Gambler.”
“One of the greatest examples of integrity I have ever known,” added Wynonna Judd, alongside a photo of the pair standing with Lionel Richie, whose hit 1980 song “Lady” was written for Rogers.
In his own tribute, Country Hall of Fame singer Charlie Daniels thanked the singer for “being a part of our lives for so long.”
Rogers’ death was also mourned by Richard Marx, who co-wrote several songs together with the music legend, including hit 1984 song “Crazy.”
“I’m so sad to see Kenny Rogers go. He did so much for me as a young songwriter and we stayed friends for over 30 years. I’ll really miss him. May he rest easy,” he wrote.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum released a tribute to Rogers as well.
“Kenny Rogers is, of course, one of music’s most successful and enduring artists,” said Kyle Young, CEO, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “His uncanny song sense and impeccable singing resonated across the genre lines that he took delight in ignoring. The antithesis of a gambler, he thought deeply and acted deliberately with every career decision, and those decisions brought to light the songwriting talents of Hal Bynum, Mickey Newbury, Don Schlitz, and many more. Though he was by any definition a superstar, he lived a life of service to songs, writers, and, above all, listeners.”
RELATED: Country Hall of Fame Singer Kenny Rogers Dies at 81
Rogers’ family broke the news of the singer’s death in a statement shared to his official social media accounts.
“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81. Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” they wrote.
“The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” the statement continued.
Over his five decades-long career, Rogers sold over 100 million records and won a number of major awards, including three Grammys, 18 American Music Awards, and a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. His biggest hits included his signature song “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Ruby,” and “Islands in the Stream”—his beloved duet with Dolly Parton which reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1983.
Announcing his retirement in 2015, Rogers said that he was hoping to spend more time with wife Wanda Miller and their five kids.
“I’ve done this long enough. I wrote in my book that sometimes there’s a fine line between being driven and being selfish. And I think I crossed that line when I was younger,” he said during an appearance on the Today show. “I really want to be there with my kids and my wife. They’re very important to me and I don’t see enough of them.”
During the same interview, Rogers made references to his ailing health and said he was “sure” he would miss touring.
“I swore that I would do this until I embarrassed myself,” he said. “I’m getting to where I don’t walk around well. My mobility is really driving me crazy.”
His final tour was named, The Gambler’s Last Deal, which lasted for two years until he was forced to cancel the last leg due to doctors’ orders.
In an April 2018 statement, his rep told PEOPLE: “Kenny Rogers has been working through a series of health challenges. His doctors fully expect the outcome to be great, but they have advised him to cancel all performances through the end of the year to focus on recuperation.”