Country Throwback: Kenny Rogers Gets Choked Up Recalling Telling Dolly Parton ‘Goodbye’

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

All good things must come to an end. The late Kenny Rogers reflects on his decades’ partnership with Dolly Parton in this moving country throwback.

Rogers and Parton were an iconic duo ever since “Islands in the Stream” united them. The two were friends for over three decades until Rogers’ death in 2020. But three years ago, Rogers finally decided to retire from country music to enjoy his final years in peace and privacy.

Telling Parton he was stepping off stage proved to be an emotional experience for the artist.

“I told Dolly, ‘I am going to say goodbye and spend more time with my wife and kids,’” Rogers told Closer Weekly. “So she replied, ‘It’s been 13 years since we sang on stage together. You cannot get out of town without us doing something.’”

Parton and Rogers took the stage together for the final time on Oct. 25, 2017, at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The farewell concert was a star-studded event as country music turned out to celebrate Rogers’ career. Parton and Rogers treated audiences to some of their classics “Islands in The Stream” and “You Can’t Make Old Friends” for the final time.

“Working with Dolly is always emotional because we have so much history together,” Rogers continued.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Become Friends

Country music fans can thank the Bee Gees and “Islands in the Stream” for uniting Parton and Rogers. Before that, the two knew of each other in the industry. But that song started a decades-long friendship and collaboration that would last the rest of Rogers’ life.

“So he brought her back in, and once she came in, that song was never the same,” Rogers said of Parton on the song. “She lit it up and we became good friends from that point on.”

It’s only fitting that the two legends closed their professional career with a rendition of the song. As Parton said during their final performance, “I can’t think of anybody else I would like to sail away with.”

Though Rogers may be gone, his music lives on, and you can click here to learn more about his life.