Kenny Rogers’ First Big Hit, ‘Just Dropped In,’ Was Written By His High School Classmate

by Jim Casey
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Kenny Rogers’ first Top 5 hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” was actually penned by his high school classmate, Mickey Newbury.

There must have been something in the water at Jefferson Davis High School in Houston, Texas, in the mid-1950s. The school produced both Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Mickey Newbury.

Kenny Rogers, The Scholar

When Kenny was in high school, he and his classmates formed a four-part harmony group, The Scholars. But as Kenny told Texas Monthly magazine in 2013, Mickey wasn’t good enough to join.

“In high school, [Mickey] wanted to be in our group, but he wasn’t very good,” said Rogers. “So Mickey goes and buys a guitar and throughout the whole summer, he never comes out of the house. And when he comes out, he was too good for us. But he was a good friend and a talent.”

Fast-forward more than a decade later, Kenny was fronting the First Edition. The group melded the sounds of country, rock, and psychedelic pop. After dropping their self-titled debut album in 1967, the First Edition scored their first Top 5 single with the release of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).”

Mickey’s Success

“Just Dropped In” reached No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. A star was born. One year later, the group rebranded as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Of course, by the mid-1970s, Kenny had embarked on an epic solo career.

As Kenny told Texas Monthly, “Just Dropped In” could have been a hit for Sammy Davis Jr.

“But ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)‘ was a game-changer,” said Kenny, who died in 2020. “It put us in a different category. But the irony of that is [Mickey] actually played that for me when I was with [previous band] New Christy Minstrels and I said, ‘Boy, I’d love to do that.’ And he said, ‘Well, I can’t give it to you because it’s on hold for Sammy Davis Jr.’ Part of me would have like to have heard that.”

Mickey went on to write a number of hits across multiple genres, including “Sweet Memories” (Andy Williams), “Time Is a Thief” (Solomon Burke), “Here Comes the Rain, Baby” (Eddy Arnold), and more. Mickey, who passed away in 2002, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980.

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