Kenneth Ray Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020) was an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and entrepreneur. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Rogers was particularly popular with country audiences but also charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, and topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone. He sold over 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
On March 20, 2020, Rogers died under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a representative for the singer said in a statement. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the family is planning a small private service with a public memorial planned for a later date.
The Gambler is the sixth studio album by Kenny Rogers, released by United Artists in December 1978. One of his most popular, it has established Rogers’ status as one of the most successful artists of the 1970s and 1980s. The album reached many markets around the world, such as the Far East and Jamaica, with Rogers later commenting “When I go to Korea or Hong Kong people say ‘Ah, the gambler!'” (as per the sleeve notes to the 1998 released box set “Through the Years” on Capitol Records). The album has sold over 35 million copies.
The title track “The Gambler” was written by Don Schlitz, who was the first to record it. It was also covered by several other artists, but it was Kenny Rogers’ adaptation of the tale that went on to top the country charts and win a Song of the Year Grammy, later becoming Rogers’ signature song. Although Johnny Cash recorded the song first, Kenny Rogers’s version was released first. Both this song and “She Believes in Me” became pop music hits, helping Rogers become well-known beyond country music circles. Although largely compiled from songs by some of the music business’s top songwriters, such as Alex Harvey, Mickey Newbury, and Steve Gibb, Rogers continued to show his own talent for songwriting with “Morgana Jones”. The album was produced by Larry Butler.
Its popularity has led to many releases over the years. After United Artists was absorbed into EMI/Capitol in 1980, “The Gambler” was reissued on vinyl and cassette on the Liberty Records label. Several years later, Liberty issued an abridged version of the album, removing the track “Morgana Jones”. EMI Manhattan Records released “The Gambler” on CD in the 1980s. An ‘Original Master Recording’ from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs was released on vinyl (audiophile edition vinyl). Finally, “The Gambler” was released on Rogers’ own Dreamcatcher Records in 2001 as part of the Kenny Rogers “Original Masters Series.”
In Britain, both the title cut and the album did very well in the country market, but both failed to reach the top 40 of the pop charts. In the 1980s the single of “The Gambler” was re-issued and made the top 100 sales list, but again charted outside the top 40. It wasn’t until the song was re-issued in 2007 when the song was adopted by the England Rugby Team at the Rugby World Cup that it charted at its #22 peak.
Additionally, “I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” was later a single in 1986 for T. Graham Brown, whose version went to #3 on the country charts. (by wikipedia)
Kenny Rogers took a bit of a chance in releasing this loosly based concept album at the time, but boy, did it pay off! Sales for the album went through the roof, as the title track and “She Believes In Me” became pop crossover hits, with the latter reaching the pop Top 10. Later, “The Gambler” was turned into a string of made-for-television movies. (by James Chrispell)
he Gambler was Kenny Rogers’ third album of 1978, after Love or Something Like It and Every Time Two Fools Collide, a duet album with Dottie West. Thanks to its career-defining title track, The Gambler was also Kenny’s best-selling studio album, with more than five million copies sold in the US.
Written by Don Schlitz, “The Gambler” was a story song, the type at which Rogers excelled. It tells the tale the down-on-his-luck narrator who receives some unsolicited advice from a professional gambler during a late-night chance meeting on a “train bound for nowhere”. It was a monster hit, reaching #1 on the country chart, #3 on the adult contemporary chart and #16 on the Hot 100, and is Rogers’ best-remembered song today. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the first to record it. Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash had both released it as an album cut and Schlitz recorded his own version, which maxed out at #65. The album’s other hit single was the ballad “She Believes in Me”, a lush ballad about a struggling musician and the supportive wife he repeatedly takes for granted. It’s a bit too AC-leaning for a lot of people, but it’s a song I’ve always liked a lot. It reached #1 on the country and AC charts, and reached #5 on the Hot 100.
“I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again” is another nice ballad, written by Rafe Van Hoy, Don Cook and Curly Putman, that would go on to be a big hit for T. Graham Brown in 1986. I think Kenny’s version could have been a big hit, but perhaps United Artists didn’t want to release another ballad on the heels of “She Believes In Me”. Sonny Throckmorton’s “A Little More Like Me (The Crucifixion)”, about a charismatic celebrity — a thinly veiled metaphor for Christ — is another track I really enjoyed.
In the 1970s, country artists with crossover potential rarely released albums that were country through and through, preferring instead to include a variety of styles in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible (although more often than not they managed to please no one). Kenny Rogers was no exception. I expected The Gambler to be a more country-leaning album, but a number of tracks: “Makin’ Music for Money”, “The Hoodooin’ of Miss Fannie DeBerry” (both written by Alex Harvey) and “Tennessee Bottle” incorporate a bluesy, funky vibe that might have been considered cutting edge in the late 70s, but it hasn’t aged at all well. I didn’t like any of these songs. Add to that list Rogers’ original composition “Morgana Jones”, a hot mess of a song that features some jazz scatting along with the R&B and funk.
Overall, The Gambler is a mixed bag. Only the two hit singles are essential listening. The album can be streamed, and it may be worth picking up a cheap copy if you can find it, but I recommend cherry-picking the handful of decent songs and forgetting about the rest.(by Razor X)
Thomas Cain (keyboards)
Pete Drake (steel guitar)
Gene Golden (keyboards, background vocals)
Steve Glassmeyer (keyboards, saxophone, background vocals)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (keyboards)
Kenny Rogers (vocals)
Edgar Struble /synthesizer, clavinet, percussion, background vocals)
Jimmy Capps Randy Dorman – Ray Edenton – Rick Harper – Billy Sanford – Jerry Shook –Tony Joe White – Reggie Young
Tommy Allsup – Bob Moore – Dennis Wilson
Eddy Anderson – Jerry Carrigan – Bobby Daniels – Byron Metcalf
strings (arranged by Bill Justis)
Byron Bach – George Brinkley – Marvin Chantry – Roy Christensen – Carl Gorodetzky –Lennie Haight – Sheldon Kurland – Steven Smith – Gary Vanosdale – Pamela Vanosdale
Dottie West – The Jordanaires – Bill Medley – Mickey Newbury
01. The Gambler (Schlitz) 3.31
02. I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again (Van Hoy/Cook/Putman) 3.00
03. King Of Oak Street (Harvey) 5.15
04. Makin’ Music For Money (Harvey) 3.20
05. Hoodooin’ Of Miss Fannie Deberry (Harvey) 4.40
06. She Believes In Me (Gibb) 4.19
07. Tennessee Bottle (Ritchey) 4.02
08. Sleep Tight, Goodnight Man (Lorber/Silbar) 2.55
09. Little More Like Me (The Crucifixion) (Throckmorton) 2.50
10. San Francisco Mabel Joy (Newbury) 3.44
11. Morgana Jones (Rogers) 3.10
Kenneth Ray Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020)