Country music legends Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers performed together regularly throughout their 30-year career. To remember “The Gambler,” who died on March 20 from natural causes, CMT is hosting a special to honor the star, called CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares. It will show performances and interviews with various artists and musicians, including Parton.
The money that is raised from the event will go towards COVID-19 relief. “Particularly in these turbulent times, we’ll stop and take a moment to allow the memory of our dear friend Kenny to bring us together and inspire us to lend support to those in the music community who are most in need,” Margaret Comeaux, Executive Producer and Vice President of Production, Music & Events at CMT, said in a statement to People magazine.
Over the decades, Rogers and Parton performed together countless times. They recorded dozens of singles together, too. Here are just some of them:
“Islands in the Stream” (1983)
“You Can’t Make Old Friends” (2013)
“The Greatest Gift of All” (1984)
“Real Love” (1985)
“Love is Strange” (1990)
Parton Was Shocked by Rogers’ Death
The “Jolene” singer mourned the loss of her friend posting a video on Twitter. “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 said.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got up this morning and turned on the TV, checking to see what the coronavirus was doing, and they told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away,” Parton added.
The singer continued:
“And I know that we all know Kenny Rogers is in a better place. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to be talking to God some time later today if he ain’t already and he’s going to be asking him to spread some light on this darkness going on here. But I loved Kenny with all my heart. My heart’s broken and a big ole chunk of it has gone with him today. And I think I can speak for all his family, friends and family and say that I will always love you.”
Parton and Rogers Never Dated
Although they were close, Rogers and Parton never became anything more than friends. “I’m a believer that tension is better if you keep it than if you satisfy it,” Rogers said during a 2017 Today Show appearance with Parton. “And then secondly, she said no to me.”
The petite crooner interjected: “Nah. You know what, we were almost like brother and sister. And it would almost be like incest. So we just never went there.”
It was easy for them to get along. “Kenny’s friendship means more to me than our hit records. Actually, we’re kind of like soul mates,” she said in a 2017 interview with CMT’s Cody Alan. “He’s from Texas and I’m from Tennessee. There’s an old famous country song, ‘T for Texas, T for Tennessee.’ We always sing that to each other. I love his singing. I love his voice. I never tire of hearing him sing. And I think our voices blend great, so I’m really proud of the musical part of that as well.”
“Kenny is just dear to me and I can’t believe we’re old enough for him to think about retiring,” the “Jolene” singer continued. “I guess he’s a little tired of it. He’s done it all his life as well. I’m so proud that I’m going to get to be there with him to see him go out in fine fashion, and I’m going to give him all kinds of trouble that night I’m sure.”
Don’t miss CMT GIANTS Kenny Rogers: A Benefit For MusiCares when it airs at 8 p.m. ET on CMT