Carole Rogers is the oldest child and only daughter of county music star Kenny Rogers, who died of natural causes on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81.
Rogers was not in contact with his oldest child. He did not play an active role in Carole’s childhood due to an arrangement made with his first wife, Janice Gordon.
Rogers also had four sons, whom you can read more about here. His kids and family released the following statement announcing his death, “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 passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”
Here’s what you need to know about Carole Lynne Rogers and her famous father.
1. Janice Gordon Became Pregnant By Kenny Rogers the First Time They Had Sex
Kenny Rogers’ teenage sweetheart was Janice Gordon. He explained in his memoir, “Luck or Something Like It,” that Gordon became pregnant the first time they had sex. Rogers was 19 years old at the time.
Rogers told Fox News in a 2012 interview that the pregnancy caused a rift with Gordon’s parents. “You know what? I loved her. At 19 I thought, ‘This is ok with me.’ That was a thing where her parents thought I’d ruined her life and were determined to break me. It didn’t work, and it’s really sad because I think it could have worked.”
The couple walked down the aisle in 1958. Daughter Carole Lynne was born on September 15, 1958.
At the time, Rogers was hard at work building a musical career. He performed with a band called The Scholars as a high school student. His first solo hit song, “That Crazy Feeling,” debuted in 1957 and was played on local radio stations, Billboard reported. In 1960, the year Rogers and Gordon divorced, he joined with Robert Doyle and Don Russell to form The Bobby Doyle Three, a jazz group. Rogers played the bass.
2. Rogers Said He Agreed to Step Back & Allow Carole Lynne’s Stepfather to Raise Her
The marriage between Kenny Rogers and Janice Gordon was short-lived. They got divorced after only two years together.
Gordon soon remarried, and Rogers has said that was the end of his relationship with their daughter, Carole Lynne. Rogers told Fox News that he agreed to keep his distance and allow Gordon’s new husband to take the lead on raising Carole. “That was my promise to them, that I would be her father but he (his ex-wife’s second husband) would be her Dad, and I don’t want to disrupt that.”
Rogers described Carole Lynne’s stepfather as a good man. “He stepped in at a time that was really awkward for all of us and he became her Dad, and I love him for that.”
3. Carole Lynne Rarely Saw Kenny Rogers During Her Childhood & Young Adulthood
Carole Lynne Rogers spent very little time with her biological father as a child. According to a 1980 feature on Kenny Rogers in People magazine, Rogers was granted only one visit per week with his daughter, and each visit was only two hours at a time.
Rogers said even those short visits stopped as his music career picked up steam. He told the magazine that he did not see Carole Lynne for 15 years.
Rogers attempted to mend fences with his only daughter in 1980. He told People that he “flew Carole and her mother in for a visit and a Hawaiian vacation” in 1979. Carole was about 22 years old at the time.
But the reconciliation was not lasting. Rogers told Fox News in 2012 that he was not in contact with Carole.
4. Kenny Rogers Expressed Regret About Not Being In His Daughter’s Life
Kenny Rogers suggested he would have done things differently in regards to his daughter, during a 1982 interview with People. At the time, his third child and second son, Christopher Cody Rogers, whom she shares with fourth wife Marianne Gordon, was an infant.
Rogers told the magazine he had allowed his career ambitions to get in the way of building relationships with Carole Lynne, as well as son Kenny Jr. At the time of the interview, Carole was 23 and Kenny Jr. was 17. “As you try to get ahead, it’s too easy to think that these kids are still going to be kids tomorrow and that once you get your current project done, you’ll spend some time with them,” Rogers said. “Then you say, ‘Well, he’s still a child, after all, so I’ll go ahead and get one more project done.’ The next thing you know the child is grown up and you can’t relate to him at all.”
According to Country Rebel, this wasn’t the only time that Rogers was regretful of the way he juggled family and career. He admitted to often putting success ahead of his kids and marriages. He explained, “When you get started in this business, there’s a fine line between being driven and being selfish. I think I was selfish a lot.”
In an interview with Fox News, Rogers went on to talk about why he was so focused on success and he credited his mother with his drive. Rogers stated, “My mom told me when I was very young, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and that just sounded too good to be true. So I set out on this musical journey … That’s what I wanted to tell people to pursue their dreams. Kids ask me all the time about the music business and I say, ‘If you’re doing this for the money, don’t do it because you won’t last long enough to get the big money, but if you’re doing this because this is your calling, then even when you’re down you’re happy. You’re doing something you love.’”
5. Carole Lynne’s Stepfather Adopted Her & Little Is Known Publicly About Her Adult Life
Carole Lynne is the biological daughter of Kenny Rogers, but she has lived her entire life out of the spotlight. Her mother, Janice Gordon, remarried when Carole was a baby and her stepfather’s name does not appear to have ever been publicly disclosed. Rogers does not appear to have ever mentioned the man’s name in any interviews, or at least those that were published online.
Gordon’s second husband adopted Carole when she was a child. She likely has her stepfather’s last name. In a search of online records, there is no mention of Carole in connection to Kenny Rogers.
Carole Lynne was 61 years old at the time of Kenny Rogers’ death.