Kenny Rogers’ Family Gathers for Memorial Service on Two-Year Anniversary of His Death

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

Kenny Rogers’ family remembered the singer on Sunday with a memorial service two years after the man’s death.

The star’s friends and family finally met for the private event. The COVID-19 pandemic made a ceremony impossible right away.

A Taste of Country reported on the event as a small group came together at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. Folks shared stories while paying their respects.

Kenny Rogers Family Talked About Legendary Singer At Ceremony

Wanda Rogers, the singer’s widow, addressed the crowd underneath a monument.

Linda Davis and Billy Dean, the star’s longtime touring partners, hosted the outdoor event. Fifteen speakers talked to the crowd to share memories of the singer.

Fans can visit Rogers’ gravesite and six former governors and 27 Atlanta mayors at the famous cemetery.

They say his plot is in Lot 599 of Bobby Jones’ Neighborhood with future details of his final resting place on the cemetery website.  

The Dr. T. Lynn Smith and Friends gospel choir punctuated the event by singing “Amazing Grace” and a pre-recorded Kenny Rogers vocal. There was also a performance of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” a longtime Rogers song favorite. 

As the guests filed out, Yahoo! reported that General (Ret.) Richard McPhee conducted an Irish sendoff.

Kenny Rogers Song ‘Goodbye’ Released As Lyric Video

The Rogers private group got their first viewing of a new lyric video from his “Goodbye” song. It came out days after his death.

The Lionel Richie-penned song, one of his last recordings while working with Capital Records, was for his 2006 album “Water & Bridges.” 

It was one of three previously unreleased tracks to appear on Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years, a compilation released by Time-Life in 2009.

Billboard Magazine caught up with Universal Music Group Nashville CEO Mike Dungan and talked about the song’s origins. Dungan had worked on “Islands In The Stream” in 1983. When Dungan worked at Capital Records, he asked Rogers about making a new record and singing in a different vocal pattern.

Dungan recalled Rogers hating the album at first. But the star changed his mind two weeks later, calling it his “favorite record he’d ever made.” The album featured “I Can’t Unlove You,” his highest-charting song in years. 

The sessions for the album produced “Goodbye,” and the song went to the Time-Life collection.

“Lionel originally wrote the song for someone in his family but wasn’t recording at the time,” record producer Tony Brown told Billboard. “He thought it would be a good song for Kenny and gave it to (Rogers manager) Jim Mazza. Jim brought it to us, and we thought, ‘why not? Lionel writes perfect melodies for Kenny’s voice.’”

Rogers Remembered For 60-year Career

The Texas-born Rogers made quite a mark on country, soft-rock, and pop audiences worldwide. He made some great songs like “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream,” and “Through The Years.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame member had 24 number one hits. He also was a six-time CMA Awards winner, a three-time Grammy Award winner, and recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. In 2015, Rogers became a CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree.

Rogers was named the “Favorite Singer of All Time” in a joint poll by USA Today and People magazine readers.