Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Accidental superstar Kenny Rogers roasts himself

By Dean Goodman
March 30, 2011

Kenny Rogers is either the most self-deprecating star in showbiz, or he’s a much better actor than he lets on his multitude of “Gambler” TV movies.Kenny Rogers

Despite a hugely successful career spanning more than 50 years, Rogers says he’s largely an untalented, unmotivated guy who just got lucky. Over and over again, during a hilariously revealing Q&A at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday, the bearded storyteller did his very best to shoot gaping holes in his legend. To wit:

* “When I look back on my life I go, How did this happen? I’ve never been really driven, for lack of a better term. I’ve just been lucky.”
* “I don’t take it seriously.”
* “I just stumbled into all of this stuff. God forbid I don’t get up one morning. How am I gonna stumble if I don’t at least get up?”
* “I have to tell you, I’m impressed. Not with me, but with what I’ve been able to do with very little talent … You know what? I’ve made a lot of money with a bad throat.”
* “I make it a point not to write hits.”

Rogers did give himself some credit. For one, he picks hit songs as well as anyone. His secret for success? When it comes to ballads — such as “Lady” and “She Believes In Me” — “It should be a song that says everything a man would like to say and every woman would like to hear,” he said.

His story songs — such as “The Gambler” and “Coward of the County” — also follow a formula. They set a location, for example “On a train bound for nowhere” in “The Gambler,” relate a narrative, and then drop the listener off at the end.

By his own admission, some of his songs are decidedly weird. “Ruby” is narrated by a guy about to shoot his wife, “Coward of the County” is about a gang rape. “People fall in love with the song and they go, Oh my God! It’s about a rape!,” he said.

Rogers is on the promotional trail for a new album of inspirational tunes titled “The Love of God,” although he said he’s more spiritual than religious. The album combines classics such as “In the Sweet By and By” with new tunes written by the likes of Vince Gill and Michael W. Smith. It recently debuted at No. 27 on the U.S. pop album charts.

At the tender age of 72, Rogers still plays about a hundred shows around the world every year, publishes photography books and is reluctantly working on his memoirs. Any spare time is consumed by 6-year-old identical twin sons, whom he half-jokingly described as “little criminals.”

For all those reason, he’s probably not the best person to ask about current music. He likes singer/guitarist Brad Paisley and soulful singer Sade, but admitted: “You’re not gonna believe this, I don’t listen to music. This is really gonna get me in trouble: I watch Fox News.”

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