It was a star-studded celebration to top all celebrations as country’s finest said goodbye to Kenny Rogers during the “All for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration” at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night (Oct. 25).
Kenny, who has notched numerous hits in his six decades of music, including “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” “Lucille,” “Coward of the County,” “She Believes In Me,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Through The Years,” and “You Decorated My Life” to name a few, announced his retirement from music in 2015 before embarking on a farewell tour.
One Country‘s Kelly Sutton hit the red carpet for the big night to talk with both Kenny and Dolly prior to the highly-anticipated event.
It was inside that artists like Jamey Johnson, Elle King, Alison Krauss, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Idina Menzel, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton and Wynonna Judd, performed some of Kenny’s biggest hits in a farewell tribute to The Gambler.
But it was Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers that were the highlight of the night. Their big moment came at the end of the show as they took the stage for their final live performance together. As the lights dimmed, a video of the famous pair throughout the years played on the big screen. The crowd erupted in applause and cheers as the Grammy award winners on to the stage arm in arm for one last time.
“This is amazing being here with this great guy,” Dolly said of Kenny, as they took the stage together. “I never heard so much good music and as much good singing. How about a hand for this guy right here, is he not something. Mr. Kenny Rogers everybody.”
“I just wanted to say I’m really really proud of you. I just hope that many, many years from now—when I’m older—that I’ll know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em,” Dolly laughed. “Anyway, we’ve been accused of it all through the years, you are retiring you want to hold them now,” she joked, referring to her ample breasts.
And the special moments between friends didn’t stop there. Kenny and Dolly sat center stage telling stories of days gone by and reminiscing about the fun times they’ve had. “Good lord, you’re just retiring we’re not dying,” Dolly said to cut through the emotional moments. The two friends then broke into a touching version of “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”
“I like to think my heart’s real, it’s probably the only thing that’s real about me. But I’ve got a spot for you that’s never ever going to be touched by anybody else and I’m gonna hold you there,” Dolly said choking back tears. “And I’m going to sing this song for you. I guess you guys know “I Will Always Love You.” I’m gonna sing this song just for you. So you just sit there and take it.”
Dolly surprised her friend with the most loving rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”
“Thank you so much for being here tonight to help me say goodbye,” Kenny said to the sold out crowd. “You guys have been wonderful and the talent on this show, wow. It’s really been fun for me and tonight is as much about me saying thank you as it is goodbye.”
With that, Dolly and Kenny performed their 1983 mega-hit, “Islands in the Stream.” The crowd was on their feet for every note, as the pair said goodbye. “Kenny, how about we go out like rock stars,” Dolly said. They turned to the audience and without missing a beat, they simultaneously dropped their mics.
And that, my friends, is how a true artist goes out.