Kenny Rogers tells us how he helped Reba McEntire through a dark time in her life Getty Images/Ethan Miller
Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Kenny Rogers will say goodbye to his life on the road with a star-studded and sold-out tribute concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Oct, 25. His pal Dolly Parton will be on hand to sing “Islands in the Stream” with him, and scores of Kenny’s other famous friends will also be there to serenade him with his greatest hits.

Though his name is on the bill, Kenny will largely be able to sit back and just listen as superstars like Reba McEntire, the Judds and Lady Antebllum sing for him.

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“I’m looking forward to the fact that I don’t have to work,” Kenny tells Rare Country. “I’m going to sit on the stage, and they’re going to sing my songs.”

Most of the artists on the bill for this show have been Kenny’s friend for decades. Take Reba McEntire, for example. We got the chance to ask Kenny about their friendship, and Kenny recalled touring with her in Australia back in 1998. The two of them also worked together on the TV movie, “Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns,” in 1991. Taking on the role helped Reba cope with the tragic loss of eight members of her band in a plane crash earlier that year.

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That friendship continues to this day. Says Kenny, “I just love her. I think she’s one of those rare people. I see her every year at a big function in Denver … When I see her, she makes me happy, and that’s all you can ask.”

We asked Kenny about a few other marquee names appearing at his star-studded tribute show. Here’s a sample of what he said:

• Wynonna and Naomi Judd: “That is a pair! I don’t know what you would say about ’em. Wynonna is such a talent. We’ve done a couple things together, and I loved them. Naomi was in a movie that I did. So, you have to know, they’re in a league of their own.”


• Lionel Richie: “My buddy. He wrote ‘Lady,’ and I hear his music in movies [and on TV] every day. I think, ‘He could have give me that song, and he didn’t. He kept it for himself.'” Kenny adds with a laugh, “He’s very selfish!”

• Alison Krauss: “She is the best singer I have ever heard. She comes into the studio. She’s done a couple of Christmas things with me. She has always been so sweet in the things that I’m doing, or they’re doing for me. She’s always been kind of the first to say, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll be there.'”


• The Flaming Lips: “I don’t have any idea [what their connection is to me]. But you know, they were the first people to volunteer. I said, ‘Well, what have they been influenced of mine—by me?’ No one could answer that, so I said, ‘Well, let’s see. Let ’em come.’ I’m excited about them being there.”

Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, Idina Menzel and Elle King are among the other stars performing in Kenny’s honor Wednesday night.

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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