Country music star Kenny Rogers, who passed away on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81, was one of the most celebrated performers of his time. But building his successful career kept Rogers away from his children for long stretches of time, and he expressed regret about that in his later years.
Rogers shared his first son, Kennedy, with third wife Margo Anderson. He went on to have a second son, Christopher Cody, in 1982 with fourth wife Marianne Gordon.
Rogers’ first child was a daughter, Carole Lynne. She was raised by her mother, Janice Gordon, and her stepfather. Rogers did not have an active role in her life.
Rogers vowed to be a better father to his youngest children. Twin boys Justin and Jordan were born in 2004 to wife Wanda Miller.
Here’s what you need to know.
Kenny Rogers Described Himself as ‘Selfish’ For Not Being Around More to Raise His Two Older Sons
Kenny Rogers sold more than 120 million albums over the course of his six-decade career, according to his website. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, won three Grammy Awards, and was one of the top-selling artists of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
In his later years, Rogers expressed remorse for sacrificing family time in order to achieve that success, especially time spent with sons Kenny Jr. and Christopher Cody. He told the Boot in 2013, “I missed an important part of their life. I look back on my career and I say, ‘Suppose I hadn’t been selfish? Suppose I had been the father I should have been, would I be here today?’ There’s a point where you have to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what I did.'”
Rogers further told Country Rebel that it’s a “fine line” when he talks about regret because his career was also important. “I had two other wives and two other children. I was gone all the time, and that wasn’t fair to them. I don’t know that I’d be where I am if I hadn’t done that, so that’s why I say it’s a fine line.”
It was not clear whether Rogers’ two older sons were present when he died. The official statement announcing his death said that Rogers “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.” But it did not specify which family members were there. The statement went on, “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.”
Rogers Said In 1980 That His Top Wish In Life Was to Have a Better Relationship With His Son, Kenny Jr.
Kenny Rogers’ became father to a son during his third marriage. He tied the knot with Margo Anderson in 1963 and they soon welcomed Kenneth Ray Jr. Anderson also had a daughter from a previous relationship, according to People.
Rogers and Anderson divorced after 12 years of marriage, and the split created a divide between Rogers and his son. He rarely saw Kenny Jr, who was a teenager at the time, after the divorce. Rogers told People magazine in a 1980 interview that if he could have one wish granted, he would “wish desperately that my relationship with Kenny Jr. were better.”
In that article, Rogers also described his son as an exceptionally intelligent teenager. The reporter wrote that Kenny Jr. had a “genius-level IQ” and lived with his mother in Palm Springs.
According to his profile on IMDB, Kenny Jr. had a career in the entertainment industry. He was credited for a few acting roles including the 1990 TV movie Christmas in America and 1994’s MacShayne: The Final Roll of the Dice. He was also credited for writing a song that appeared on the soundtrack for the feature film Get Him to the Greek starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand.
Kenny Rogers Said His Marriage to Marianne Gordon Went South After She Stopped Touring With Him In Order to Care For Their Son, Christoper Cody
Kenny Rogers expressed a desire to change his priorities when his second son was born. Christopher Cody was born on December 4, 1981, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles three weeks before his expected due date. The infant suffered from a dangerous respiratory disorder called hyaline membrane disease but managed to recover.
The March 1982 edition of People magazine featured Rogers, wife Marianne Gordon, and baby Christopher on the cover. The article noted that after Christopher arrived, Rogers celebrated the occasion by passing out Hershey candy bars “with all the letters except HE blocked out.”
Roger said that he wished to be more present in Christopher’s life than he had been for his two older children, Carole Lynne and Kenny Jr. “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. ” The next thing you know the child is grown up and you can’t relate to him at all.”
But as Rogers revealed decades later, his musical career continued to keep him away even after Christopher arrived. He told the Independent in 2006 that his marriage to Marianne slowly crumbled after their son was born, eventually leading to their 1993 divorce. “Everything was fine until our son Christopher was born, but I wouldn’t want him to take any responsibility for this,” Rogers explained, “because that’s when Marianne stopped touring with me and stayed home to take care of him, and then when I came home from touring or doing a tennis tournament, I found that our lifestyles were clashing.”
As an adult, Christopher Cody also pursued a career in the entertainment industry. According to his IMDB profile, he has spent more of his energy behind-the-camera. In 2018, he wrote, directed and produced a short called Two If By Sea. He was credited as an actor in projects including the TV series Reno 911! and the TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw. As a toddler, he also appeared in the TV movie documentary Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember.
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