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Dolly Parton reflects on loss of old friend Kenny Rogers

Dolly Parton honors her friend Kenny Rogers three years after his death.

Dolly Parton honors her friend Kenny Rogers three years after his death.
Steve GranitzWireImage

Country music icon Dolly Parton is reflecting on her old friend Kenny Rogers as the third anniversary of his death approaches in March, remembering their many years of friendship. Parton reflected on the songs they sang together and the importance of old friends.

American country singer songwriter Kenny Rogers, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, died of natural causes at the age of 81 in March 2020.

In an interview with People Magazine, Parton said that she still thinks of him often and misses her fellow singer very much.

“I miss him so much,” the 77-year-old singer said. “I’ve lost so many wonderful people in my life in the last few years. But Kenny — he was very, very dear and special and I never get tired of hearing us sing, all the years that we were on stage together.”

Missing an old friend

Despite the loss of her old friend, Dolly Parton is sure she will see Rogers in Heaven some day as she reminisced about singing their duet ‘Islands in the Stream’, a track that earned them a top spot on the 1983 music charts.

“He’s up there singing,” Dolly Parton declared. “I know that.”

“You know how sometimes you get tired of singing something because it just becomes routine? I would always lighten up when that particular song was due in the setlist,” the country music legend said.

It just always made everybody feel so good in the audience and the audience always loved singing it. I never got tired of Kenny’s voice.”

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers history

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers had a number of musical encounters and collaborations since ‘Islands in the Stream’, in 2013 the pair performed the song ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’, which was originally written by Ryan Hanna King, Don Schlitz, and Caitlyn Smith.

Parton noted that the timing of the ‘Old Friend’ duet was just right, as it was only a few years later, in 2018, that Rogers retired from his music career due to health reasons.

“[We recorded the song] just in time too, honestly,” Parton recalled. “And now I can’t hardly sing it.”

Remarking on the song’s significance to her long-standing friendship with Rogers, Parton said that there is nothing like the friends you make when you are young.

“You can make new friends that feel like old friends,” the singing icon said. “There’s just something about the people that have spent years together.”

“You have a history, and you learn about each other, inside and out. I knew Kenny very well. We’re very similar. We’re like brother and sister really.”


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