Singer Kenny Rogers - who composed, sang, and starred in popular ads for Barona Casino -- has passed away at the age of 81. Rogers reportedly died peacefully at home from natural causes, while under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. Though best known for his hit song "The Gambler," his highest charting solo track is actually "Lady," which topped Billboard's Hot 100, Country, and Adult Contemporary charts. Songwriter Lionel Richie once told Entertainment Weekly "I have an estate that 'Lady' bought." His duet "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton also hit number one.
His most recent San Diego concerts were staged at Pechanga Resort & Casino (2017, his farewell tour), the Del Mar Fairgrounds (2016), and he even made a storied appearance at the Belly Up in 2013.
"Several years ago, I worked on a casino commercial that starred The Gambler," recalls San Diego illustrator-writer Mark Habegger. "I had a few conversations with him and I found him to be a very nice guy." Rogers was later replaced as the Casino's singing spokesperson by local headliner Juice Newton.
Did you know playing cards with Kenny Rogers gets old pretty fast?
"I have a weird connection to Kenny," says Jaimie Muehlhausen of local band Murderers Of Love. "Back in 2000 I created a website called Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers, and it became a hugely popular site, and was even named one of the Top 100 Websites in the History of the Internet by Yahoo. For years Kenny was asked about the site and was always gracious and humorous about it...this year is the twentieth anniversary of my website."
"He embraced the humor and even gave me a free licensing deal to use his name and likeness."