Country music legend Kenny Rogers was one of the most beloved performers of his time. When the news broke of his passing, fans everywhere were stunned, especially his biggest fans: his children.
When Rogers passed away on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81, he left behind his loving family that included his five children: Carole Lynne, Kenny Jr., Christopher Cody, and the twins, Justin and Jordan.
While we know much about Rogers and his legendary career— what about his children?
Carole Lynne Rogers
At 19-years-old, Rogers married Janice Gordon in 1958 after discovering she was pregnant, and the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Carole, on September 15, 1958.
Unfortunately, after their marriage ended, he did not play a role in Carole’s childhood due to an arrangement he made with Gordon.
In his autobiography, Luck or Something Like It, Rogers recalled he was fully prepared to take on the responsibilities of being a father.
“I understood how girls got pregnant and that guys had an obligation when they did,” Rogers wrote. “When my Janice got pregnant, I was fully prepared to take the step into married life. It never occurred to me to walk away from the responsibility.”
After the divorce, Rogers was granted only one visit per week with his daughter. Later, when his career took off, he grew distant from Carole, and the two saw each other only one time in 15 years.
Later, when Carole was in her early 20s, Rogers tried to mend their relationship and flew Carole and her mother to Hawaii for a family vacation. Unfortunately, the reconciliation did not last, and they were never able to have a relationship.
Kenny Rogers Jr.
Later, Rogers got married a second time to Jean Rogers, but it only lasted three years. However, he didn’t call it quits on love and got married for a third time to Margo Anderson. As a result, the couple later welcomed Rogers’ first son, Kenny Jr. Like Carole, Kenny Jr. was not close to his father.
In an interview in 1980, Rogers revealed that he had hardly seen his son since 1975. “I would wish desperately that my relationship with Kenny Jr. were better,” he said in an interview. During the same interview, he also described his son as a boy that had a genius-level IQ.
However, he did follow in his father’s entertaining footsteps and made himself a career in the industry. Now 55-years-old, he’s worked on soundtracks, booked parts as an actor, and in 2014 he directed a short film, Up All Night.
Christopher Cody Rogers
Unfortunately, his third marriage also ended in divorce, but Rogers would find love again. In 1977, he married his fourth wife, an actress named Marianne Gordon. On December 4, 1981, they welcomed Rogers’ second son, Christopher Cody Rogers. This time around, Rogers wouldn’t make the same mistakes. He worked harder at having a stronger relationship with Christopher than his previous children.
Rogers admitted that the reasoning behind his failed marriages and neglect for his children was due to his overwhelming ambition for stardom.
“As you try to get ahead, it’s too easy to think that these kids are still going to be kids tomorrow and that once you get your current project done, you’ll spend some time with them,” Rogers reflected in an interview. “Then you say, ‘Well, he’s still a child, after all, so I’ll go ahead and get one more project done.’ The next thing you know the child is grown up and you can’t relate to him at all.”
Tragically, after 15 years of marriage, history repeated itself, and Rogers and Gordon divorced. After their son was born, Gordon couldn’t be on the road as much with Rogers because she needed to stay home to care for Christopher. This became a significant point of contention for their relationship, and as a result, the two parted ways.
As for their son, he now works in the entertainment industry as a writer, film editor, and producer.
He worked as the writer, director, and actor in the short film Two If By Sea. He’s also worked on projects such as The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, Park, Loneliness, “Reno 911!”, Six Pack, and “Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember.”
Justin & Jordan Rogers
Following a 60 million dollar divorce from Gordon, Rogers married his fifth and final wife, Wanda Miller. Even though she was 28 years younger than Rogers, the two made it work. However, things got rocky in the beginning when Rogers expressed to Miller that he didn’t want any more children.
“Actually, before we married my position was, ‘Been there, done that’, so I told her, ‘I don’t want any more kids’ and she said, ‘I don’t either,'” Rogers said.
However, Rogers realized he didn’t want to take away Miller’s ability to have children. As a result, the two welcomed twins, Justin and Jordan, on July 6, 2004.
Hoping to rectify his past mistakes, Rogers took time off from touring to spend time with the twins.
Rogers felt he’d missed crucial moments during his children’s early years and didn’t want to repeat those mistakes.
“There’s a fine line between being driven and being selfish, and I think I may have crossed that line a couple of times when I was younger, he said in 2013. “And I don’t wanna do that with the boys. I’m determined to be there and be a dad to them at all costs.”
When the twins became old enough, they joined their dad when he went back on the road—giving them invaluable memories and a bond they’ll cherish to this day.