On This Day: Kenny Rogers Goes No. 1 With ‘She Believes in Me’ in 1979

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Kenny Rogers, at the tail end of the 1970s, discovered what it was like to have most of the country’s music fans sing along with him.

The Gambler, his sixth studio album, produced two huge songs. And Kenny Rogers especially celebrated June 9, 1979, when She Believes in Me hit No. 1 on both the country and adult contemporary charts. The song also was a summer delight on the pop charts, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts.

Steve Gibbs wrote the song. And Kenny Rogers was the first to record it. And She Believes in Me became one of Rogers’ signatures. The country star was known for his songs that told a story — think The Gambler, Lucille or Coward of the County. And Rogers also was beloved because of his love songs. You still probably can’t attend a wedding or celebrate someone’s anniversary without hearing a song like Lady or She Believes in Me.

Country Star Paid Tribute to Memory of Kenny Rogers with She Believes in Me

When Kenny Rogers died in March, 2020, country star Jake Owen sang She Believes in Me and posted the clip to Twitter as a tribute. He wrote:

“This is one of my favorite Kenny Rogers songs of all time,” Owen said. “Because I think it speaks to any person like myself who plays music and has a woman standing behind you and believing in you.”

The song tells the story of a singer who does his shows at night while his wife is back home, helping to support him. By the time he gets home, his wife is sleeping. So he changes clothes without the lights so as not to disturb her. But she wakes up anyway and asks “how was your night.”

Another verse: I fumble with a melody or two and I’m torn between the things that I should do. And she says to wake her up when I am through. God, her love is true.”

And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me. I told her someday, if she was my girl, I could change the world, with my little songs. I was wrong. But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully.
And who knows, maybe on some special night, if my song is right. I will find a way.”

While 1979 Was Huge for Rogers, 1980 Was Even Better

As good as 1979 was to Kenny Rogers, 1980 was even better. His duet with pop star Kim Carnes — Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer — was a hit. Then, he started his collaboration with Lionel Richie.

The song Lady launched both Richie and Kenny Rogers into mass crossover territory. Rogers released the song in September of 1980. By mid-November, the song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed there for six weeks, tying Blondie’s Call Me for the longest time at No. 1 for the entire year. John Lennon’s Starting Over knocked Kenny Rogers out of the top spot two days after Christmas.

So while Kenny Rogers could tell an engaging story, his love songs made us swoon.