Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kenny Rogers, The #34 Artist of the Seventies*

Kenny Rogers first performed professionally in the mid-1950's with a rockabilly group known as the Scholars.  After three singles, the group broke up.  Kenny released a solo single, "That Crazy Feeling" in 1958, and enjoyed a minor hit with it.

Rogers then joined the jazz group the Bobby Doyle Three, which recorded for Columbia Records.  That group failed, so Rogers began working as a producer, writer, and session musician for artists such as Eddy Arnold and Mickey Gilley.  In 1966, Kenny joined the New Christy Minstrels.

When Rogers and fellow Minstrels Thelma Camacho, Mike Settle, and Terry Williams wanted to expand beyond the group, they left and formed the First Edition.  The group scored some major hits, including "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town", "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In", "Something's Burning", and "But You Know I Love You".  Those First Edition songs do not count for the purposes of this special; they were their own act, and Kenny is a separate act.

In 1976, Rogers signed a solo recording contract with United Artists Records and released the album Love Lifted Me.  He enjoyed some minor success with the smaller Country audience.  The following year, Kenny released his self-titled album, which went Platinum.  The single "Lucille" went to #1 in twelve countries, including the U.K. and Canada, and reached #5 in the United States and #7 in Australia.  The song sold over one million copies in the U.S. and over five million worldwide.

In 1977, Kenny released the album Daytime Friends.  The title song hit #1 Country and #28 overall in the U.S. and #21 in Canada, and helped Kenny score a second consecutive Platinum album.

Rogers then released the album Love or Something Like It, which went Gold.  The single went to #1 on the Country chart, and also received a significant amount of airplay on the Adult format.

A song written for Kenny for Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb (the Bee Gees) became a fan favorite from the album.
Kenny broke into the mainstream with his next release, The Gambler.  The title song became a huge multi-format hit, #1 Country, #3 Adult Contemporary, and a highly underrated #16 in the United States, and #8 in Canada).  The album has now sold over five million copies.

The compilation album Ten Years of Gold in 1978 sold four million copies, however most of the album was filled with songs from the First Edition, with only two 70's hits, diminishing its importance for ranking The Top Artists of the 70's*.

Rogers captured the Grammy Award for Best Country Male Vocal Performance for "The Gambler".  Kenny's follow-up, "She Believes In Me", was even bigger.  It reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, #1 on the Country chart, and #5 on the Popular chart in the United States, and #5 in Canada.

Meanwhile, Kenny combined with country singer Dottie West for a string of Country hits--"Every Time Two Fools Collide", "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight", "All I Ever Need Is You", and "Til I Can Make It On My Own".  The pair earned two Gold awards and two Grammy nominations, and sold out concert halls for several years.

The album Kenny soared to #5 on the Album chart, and has now gone over the three-million mark in sales.  The single "You Decorated My Life" went to #1 Country, #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #7 overall in the United States, and #12 in Canada.

"Coward Of The County" became another across-the-board winner, racing to #1 on the Country chart, #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #5 overall in the U.S..  It was a "triple #1" in Canada (#1 Adult, #1 Country, and #1 Popular), and also roared to #1 in the U.K. and #6  in Australia.  The single sold over one million copies.

The Kenny Rogers Singles Album, released in 1979, again consisted of half songs from the First Edition, and half of Kenny's solo career.  The album went Gold, so approximately half of those sales factored into these rankings.

Rogers' star shined bright in the 80's, as he became an international superstar.   He starred in several movies, and he continues to record and tour to this day.  Kenny released another compilation, Greatest Hits, in 1980, which has now sold over 12 million copies.  But once again, half of the material consisted of songs with the First Edition, so nearly half of those sales are credited to that group and not Rogers.  Kenny's 70's music accounted for approximately 40% of the 1983 compilation 20 Greatest Hits, which sold four million copies. 

In 1995, Rogers starred as himself in the biographical television movie Big Dreams and Broken Hearts:  The Dottie West Story.

Rogers had eight solo hits in the decade, with half of those going Top 10, and all four becoming huge hits.  Kenny sold over 22 million albums from his 70's material.

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