Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton Announce Final Performances Together

Collaborations will be the centerpiece of a tribute concert to Rogers in Nashville in October, featuring Little Big Town, Flaming Lips and more

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton will perform together for the last time at an October tribute show to Rogers. Credit: Ed Rode/WireImage

In the crossover world of country and pop music, few stars have burned brighter longer than Kenny Rogers. Now, as the singer with the distinctively gruff but tender voice gets ready to retire from live performance after six decades, Rogers has announced plans for a final Nashville concert that will also serve as a tribute to his incredible legacy of hits, including "The Gambler," "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" and "Islands in the Stream."

On Wednesday, October 25th, Rogers will be joined by a diverse array of artists including Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, Elle King, Broadway and film star Idina Menzel, alt-rockers Flaming Lips, Alison Krauss and many more for "All In for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration," which will be taped at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for later broadcast. Several additional acts will be announced in the coming weeks. Highlighting the once-in-a-lifetime concert will be the last-ever performance of Rogers and his frequent duet partner, Dolly Parton.

"It's going to be really exciting," Rogers tells Rolling Stone Country of his final Nashville show. "It's a chance, while they're doing something for me, for me to say goodbye to these people as well."

Rogers shares a special bond with his "Islands in the Stream" partner, with whom he cut several additional hits, including their second Number One "Real Love," "Love Is Strange" and the 2014 CMA-nominated "You Can't Make Old Friends." "Dolly is one of those rare people, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, she is everything you think she is and more," Rogers says. "And that's a rare thing to be able to say about people. Neither of us takes ourselves for granted, and we're both kind of astonished as to what's happened with our lives and our careers. We're both very appreciative of it."

"I've had a great life, I can't complain, but it's time for me to hang it up."

The most recent time Rogers and Parton performed together in public was 12 years ago, when CMT crowned their version of "Islands in the Stream," originally written by the Bee Gees, country's greatest duet of all time. This upcoming concert will mark only the third time they've sang together in 27 years – and both have agreed it will be the last.

Since his own earliest hits as frontman for the country-rock group the First Edition, Rogers has influenced countless other artists, yet remains humbled by that experience. "When I meet people, they tell me that I was responsible for certain things and I always thought that was great," he says. "[Now] they're coming to do things for me and I think that's awesome. I'm a bit uncomfortable touting it because it's not my nature. It's kind of fun and kind of scary. This is all I've done for 60 years, but my mobility has gotten kind of strange, and I don't like to go on stage and have to apologize. It's one of those things – you make decisions based on what life gives you. I've had a great life, I can't complain, but it's time for me to hang it up, I think."

While Rogers, who has tour dates scheduled throughout the summer and fall, is confident he's made the right decision, he muses that his youngest children, twin sons who turned 13 earlier this month, aren't as sure.

"They said, 'Dad, what are you gonna do when you quit singing?' I said, 'Well, I thought I would quit singing and spend all my time with you boys.' And they both went, 'Oh my god!' So, that apparently was not a great idea," Rogers says with a laugh.

Tickets for "All In for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration," go on sale Friday, July 21st at 10 a.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation and the Kenny Rogers Children's Center.

Kenny Rogers' farewell tour continues with shows this weekend in Las Vegas and Temecula, California.