American country music legend Kenny Rogers has died aged 81.

A family representative said he “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes”.

Rogers topped pop and country charts during the 1970s and 1980s, and won three Grammy awards.

Known for his husky voice and ballads including The Gambler, Lucille and Coward Of The County, his career spanned more than six decades.

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He once summed up his popularity by explaining that he believed his songs “say what every man wants to say and that every woman wants to hear”.

After growing up in poverty on a federal housing estate in Houston, Texas, Rogers began recording with a string of bands, including Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, before launching his solo career in 1976.

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He was never a favourite of music critics, but became one of the most successful pop-country crossover acts of all time, and the 10th best-selling male artist in US history in terms of album sales.

Rogers and close friend Dolly Parton had a smash hit in 1983 with Islands in the Stream
Rogers and close friend Dolly Parton had a smash hit in 1983 with Islands in the Stream

He collaborated with other country music legends during his career, including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.

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A keen businessman, Rogers led several ventures over the years, mainly in property and the restaurant sector.

He also acted in several movies and TV shows, including starring as a race car driver in the 1982 movie Six Pack.


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