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Country music legend Kenny Rogers dies at 81

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Vocalist Kenny Rogers, who dominated the pop and country charts in the 1970s and 1980s with a string of sleekly tailored hits and won three Grammys, has died at the age of 81.

Rogers “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” a representative for the singer said in a statement.

Due to the national COVID-19 emergency, the family is planning a small private service at this time with a public memorial planned for a later date.

Rogers had announced a farewell tour in 2015 and was able to keep it going through December 2017. In April 2018, shortly before he was to spend a few months finishing out the tour after a break, he announced that he was having to call off the remaining dates (including a planned appearance at the Stagecoach Festival in California), due to unspecified “health challenges.”

Known for his husky voice and ballads including The Gambler, Lucille and Coward Of The County, his career spanned more than six decades.

He once summed up his popularity by explaining that he believed his songs “say what every man wants to say and that every woman wants to hear”.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013 and, that same year received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association.

In their statement, his family said he “left an indelible mark on the history of American music”.

A keen businessman, Rogers also led several ventures over the years, mainly in property and the restaurant sector.

He was married five times and had five children.

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