Dolly Parton Pays Tribute to Beloved Friend Kenny Rogers After His Death

Country star Kenny Rogers died at age 81 on March 20, 2020

By Corinne Heller Mar 21, 2020 3:40 PMTags
Kenny Rogers, Dolly PartonWalt Disney Television via Getty Images

Dolly Parton is mourning the death of her friend and duet partner Kenny Rogers.

The fellow country star died at age 81 from natural causes on Friday night, at a hospice and surrounded by his family, his rep announced on Saturday. Rogers was known for hits such as "The Gambler" and his 1983 duet with Parton, "Islands in the Stream."

"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 it told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away," Parton, 74, said in a video posted on Instagram on Saturday. "And I know that we all know Kenny's in a better place than we are today, but I'm pretty sure he's gonna be talking to God sometime today if he ain't already, he's gonna be asking him to spread some light on bunch of this darkness going here."

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"But I love Kenny with all my heart. My heart's broken and a big ol' chunk of it has gone with him today. And I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends and fans when I say that I will always love you," she said, quoting her famous lyric. "God bless you, Kenny, fly high. Straight to the arms of God and to the rest of you, keep the faith."

Parton also wrote on Instagram, "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. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly."

Beth Gwinn/Redferns via Getty Images

"Dolly he sure loved you," commented fellow country star Reba McEntire. "What a character. There never has been and never will be another one like him. Love you."

Rogers and Parton last performed "Islands in the Stream" together at a show in Nashville in 2017 during his farewell tour, which was cut short a year later for health reasons.

Fellow country star Blake Shelton also took to social media to pay tribute to Rogers.

"I can't express on twitter the impact Kenny Rogers the artist and the man had on me," he tweeted. "He was always very kind and fun to be around. Rest In Peace Gambler..."

"I woke up the news of @_KennyRogers passing," wrote country singer Jake Owen. "It's not about #1s. It's about the legacy you leave behind and he was a great man. He changed Country Music and had a voice like no other. Thank you Kenny. Thank you."

Country singer Travis Twitter tweeted, "I'm very sad to learn that @_KennyRogers has passed away. Kenny was a friend who helped me in so many ways early on. He was always funny, kind and full of advice. Kenny's legacy of great music will live on forever. My deepest condolences to Wanda & family. #RIPKennyRogers."

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"Saddened by death of Kenny Rogers-consummate entertainer and classy gentleman," tweeted Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. "One of my favorite artists and guests on my tv show. His music and his kindness will be missed but never forgotten."

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