When you think of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers duets, there’s simply one song that stands above all their work together.
“Islands in the Stream.” It’s a track that has permeated all types of culture and eardrums, and may just be one of the greatest love songs ever created. It’s certainly one of the greatest of the 1980s, and that may be best evidenced by the praise it received at the 1984 ACM Awards.
The song was originally written by the Bee Gees. It was later recorded by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in August of 1983. It became the second No. 1 pop hit for both Parton and Rogers.
The following spring, after spending time at No. 1 stateside and in countless countries, the song had a magnificent return at the 1984 ACM Awards. For one, the song brought Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton the award for Single Record of the Year. It also earned them honors for Top Vocal Duet.
“Thanks,” Rogers started with an emphatic fist pump. “The academy, I thank you very much, I appreciate this. It’s very exciting, first of all, just to work with Dolly. I guess the truth is Dolly qualifies as Duet of the Year just by herself, but it’s nice to be a part of this. RCA, thanks very much, this is my first album with RCA, the first single and I’m pretty impressed with what you’ve done so far.”
Even Kenny Rogers had a “Dolly joke” up his sleeve. Sadly, Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20, 2020.
Dolly Parton Beautifully Spoke on Her Relationship with Kenny Rogers
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers have always been intertwined since their work in the 1980s. Besides “Islands in the Stream,” the pair also recorded other duets and released a Christmas album.
Back in late 2020, Dolly opened up about the special connection she had with Rogers. The pair’s chemistry was undeniable, and Parton said as much.
“I think we meant so much to all of you because we meant so much to each other,” Dolly Parton said. “Kenny was like a soul mate of mine. He’s from Texas, I’m from Tennessee. There’s a famous old song “T is for Texas, T is for Tennessee.”
“We were like brother and sister in a way,” she added. “We were really like best friends. Something about me and Kenny, I’m sure you have people in your life … ‘Hey, it’s me, you can say that to somebody else, but that ain’t getting it with me.’”
There was always speculation about how exactly deep their relationship went, but per Dolly’s words, it was special but platonic. Sometimes, you just meet someone that checks all the boxes as a friend.
“We loved each other to death,” she said. “We were so funny together, we both had a crazy sense of humor. … We’d just hit each other’s funny bones. He touched me in a way that made me laugh like other people didn’t. And I was the same way with him.”