“Islands in the Stream,” with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, is considered one of the best country duets ever. But Rogers nearly called it quits when he was first working on the song, Taste of Country reported.
“I don’t even like this song anymore,” Rogers told Bee Gees songwriter Barry Gibb.
Gibb insisted to Rogers that what the song needed was Dolly Parton. Fortunately, Parton was not in Nashville but in Los Angeles, along with Rogers and Gibb.
“And my manager said, ‘I just saw her downstairs,'” Rogers told Taste of Country. “So I said, ‘Go get her and bring her back.’
Rogers and Parton had met once at that point. Rogers had been a guest on Parton’s television show, “Dolly,” with his former band, the First Edition.
“So he brought her back in,” Rogers continued, “and once she came in, that song was never the same. She lit it up and we became good friends from that point on.”
The tune debuted in August 1983 as a single from Rogers’s album “Eyes that See in the Dark.” It would become one of the hits that Rogers was best known for, drawing mentions even at the end of a long career when he died.
After Rogers passed, The Atlantic mined his memoir, “Luck or Something Like It,” for interesting stories, and his account of that duet stood out.
“I’ve lived through earthquakes in California, twisters in Kansas, and hurricanes in Georgia, but nothing prepared me for working with Dolly,” Rogers wrote. “We are what you call soul mates, or kindred spirits might be more accurate.”
Parton and Rogers recorded multiple duets together over the years, but none of them ever managed to eclipse “Islands in the Stream.”