Country Rewind: Dolly Parton Pays Tribute to Kenny Rogers with ‘Sweet Music Man’ Cover

by Jim Casey

Less than three weeks after the passing of Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton paid tribute to the legend by singing “Sweet Music Man” during CMT Giants: Kenny Rogers on April 8, 2020.

Let’s hit pause for a few minutes today to appreciate a truly memorable country music performance. In fact, let’s hit rewind so we can actually watch it.

Setting the Stage

Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81. To honor the country music legend, CMT orchestrated a tribute show that featured at-home performances by Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Vince Gill, Jennifer Nettles, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, and more.

Hosted by Rita Wilson, the TV special included archival photos, interviews, commentary from Kenny, performance clips, and more. The show also served as an opportunity for viewers to donate to MusiCares to support COVID-19 relief.

Dolly Parton honored Kenny by performing “Sweet Music Man.” Kenny penned the song for his 1977 album, Daytime Friends. The single became a Top 10 hit for Kenny.

In addition, Dolly recorded “Sweet Music Man” on her 1977 album, Here You Come Again.

Kenny & Dolly Forever Linked

Dolly and Kenny had a decades-long friendship dating back to the 1980s. Of course, Dolly and Kenny would famously top the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983 with their duet, “Islands in the Stream.”

Over the course of his career, Kenny recorded 24 No. 1 hits, 11 No. 1 albums, and 25 Top 10 country albums. In addition, he won three Grammy Awards, eight ACM Awards, and six CMA Awards. Kenny was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 27, 2013.

“You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” said Dolly via Twitter after Kenny’s passing. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”