Kenny Rogers Brings Legends To ‘All In For The Gambler’ Farewell Concert

Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

Kenny Rogers is retired. Rogers’ 60-year career culminated at the Bridgestone Arena last night (Oct. 25) for the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration taping. Pay no attention to his Christmas tour running through December. And the air date has not yet been announced for the special.

Rogers sat side stage, welcoming a slew of friends, including Lionel Richie (“Lady”) and Don Henley (“Desperado”), who once lived with Rogers and his family. Also appearing were Wynonna (“You Turn The Light On”), The Judds (“Back To The Well”), Reba McEntire (“Reuben James”), Kris Kristofferson (“Me And Bobby McGhee”), The Oak Ridge Boys (“Love Or Something Like It”) and Crystal Gayle and Travis Tritt led a chorus of The Gatlin Brothers, Kim Forester, T.G. Sheppard, Lee Greenwood, T. Graham Brown, and Billy Dean for “Blaze of Glory.” Members from Rogers’ 1960s-1970s pop group The First Edition also took the stage for a photo appearance.

Little Big Town. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

Don Henley. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

Not only were newer artists present—like Justin Moore (“Lucille”), Billy Currington (“Morning Desires”), Chris Stapleton (“The Gambler”) and Little Big Town (“Through The Years”)—crossover artists also took turns, among them Aaron Lewis (“Coward of the County”), The Flaming Lips (“Ruby”), Elle King (“Tulsa Turnround”) and Idina Menzel (“You Decorated My Life”).

The evening’s most sparkling performances were kicked off by mother-daughter duet with Linda Davis and Hillary Scott, “Twenty Years Ago.” Jamey Johnson delivered two, most notably “Sweet Music Man,” and “Just Dropped In.” Alison Krauss was elegant as always on “Love the World Away.” Fresh-faced Lady Antebellum delivered a memorable “She Believes In Me,” while member Charles Kelley continued with a fantastic duet with Menzel, “We’ve Got Tonight.”

Even the house band was top notch, led by Don Was and featuring talent including Jedd Hughes and Tom Bukovak among many others. The evening’s host was Chip Esten.

Bill Haslam and Nashville mayor Megan Barry’s reps presented plaques, marking the day as Kenny Rogers Day and honoring him with the Armed Services Award, among other plaques.

Lionel Richie. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

Idina Menzel, Charles Kelley. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

The evening’s main attraction, of course, was Rogers with Dolly Parton.

“Thank you for coming here tonight to help me say goodbye,” said Rogers. “You guys have made this a very special night for me. I enjoyed every song—some of those songs I’ll never sing again.”

The pair began their three-song set with their 2013 release “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”

Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton. Photo: Blackbird Presents/Webster PR

 

The pair talked for a cumulitive 15 minutes straight about everything from favorite career memories to plastic surgeries with their candid charm and signature wit.

“She is like this 24/7,” said Rogers of Parton’s energy.

“I go on with a lot of foolishness, ‘cuz I like to have fun and lighten things up, but there is a place deep in my country heart that goes beyond understanding—beyond the jokes and everything else,” said a tearful Parton.”I like to think my heart’s real—probably the only thing real about me—but with that heart I have a spot for you that’s never going to be touched by anyone else, and I’m gonna hold you there forever…But good lord, you’re just retiring, you’re not dying!”

Parton then performed her signature “I Will Always Love You” as Rogers again, sat back.

Then the moment everyone waited for. As cameras rolled, the final duet performance of “Islands In The Stream.” Parton and Rogers then took a bow, and “went out like rock stars” with a dual mic-drop before walking back through the risers into the lights, in each others’ embrace.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] @EricTParker

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