Country music star Kenny Rogers, along with special guest Linda Davis, will make a stop at Eisenhower Auditorium on Saturday as part of his “Gambler’s Last Deal Christmas & Hits” farewell tour.
Rogers’ career has spanned four decades, during which time he has produced 24 No. 1 singles, including “Lady” and “Islands in the Stream,” but Rogers said that the song he will always be most known for is “The Gambler,” released in 1978.
“ ‘The Gambler’ has become my persona, if you will; everybody knows me as the gambler,” Rogers said. “In their job I think everybody tries to find something that identifies them and separates them from other people — I think ‘The Gambler’ did that.”
Riding the success of his “Gambler” persona into the 21st century, Rogers was awarded a Country Music Awards lifetime achievement award and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Rogers said the awards and recognition have been nice, but the opportunity to have a farewell tour has been equally rewarding.
“I really wanted a chance to say thank you to everyone,” Rogers said. “I’m just going around the world saying goodbye to people and thank them for all the years of support.”
In addition to worldwide touring and continual music production, Rogers became a popular Christmas artists during his career. Rogers said a usual December show would be entirely Christmas songs, but the farewell show will only have a few Christmas songs in the middle of the set.
“The farewell tour is done differently than how my normal show was,” Rogers said. “It’s a retrospective in chronological order of my career.”
Rogers’ career began just after graduating from high school in Houston in 1957. He started out as a jazz artist, but after his first few singles under performed, he made his way into the country genre and formed the band The First Edition. The band called it quits in 1976 and Rogers embarked on his solo career, which is coming to an end 40 years later.
He attributes much of his success in country music to a piece of advice his mother gave him when he first began in the industry.
“My mom told me, ‘Son be happy with where you are, but don’t be content to be there,’ ” Rogers said.
With that advice driving him to stay fresh and relevant in the business, Rogers said he was always trying to improve and take his career in different directions.
“There are only two ways you can compete in this business: You can do what everyone else is doing and do it better — I didn’t like my chances with that — or you can do something that nobody else is doing and not invite comparison,” Rogers said. “I chose to do it that way.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Kenny Rogers’ “Gambler’s Last Deal Christmas & Hits” tour
- When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
- Info: www.cpa.psu.edu