When Rolling Stone Country asked Kenny Rogers back in August how he feels about retirement, he answered very enthusiastically that it’s “close.” Though in great health, the 76-year-old isn’t quite as agile on stage as in years past.
“I’ve got a bad knee and a bad shoulder. I tell everybody onstage, ‘I had my knee replaced, so if I look shaky up here… I don’t drink, so it’s my knee. If I should fall, don’t come get me because I have Life Alert,'” he joked.
Rogers isn’t quite ready to sell his tour bus, but he is saying goodbye to his friends Down Under. The country music icon will spend January and February of next year in Australia and New Zealand on his Farewell Down Under tour, playing his final shows there.
The trek kicks off in Sydney on January 23rd, followed by shows in Tamworth, Newcastle, Melbourne, Launceston, Gold Coast, Townsville, Perth and Adelaide. His two February stops in New Zealand will be in Christchurch and Hamilton. Rogers first toured the two countries back in 1973 with First Edition and then joined Dolly Parton for joint tours of Australia and New Zealand in 1984 and again in 1987, followed by four more tours there in subsequent years.
“For all of the traveling I’ve done around the world, Australia and New Zealand remain two of my favorite places to perform,” Rogers says in a press statement. “When I was with the First Edition, we made this same trip several times, and no matter how many times I’ve gone, I’ve always loved the audiences Down Under. They have a great sense of humor, and they’ve always treated me with such great respect.”
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Rogers’ Christmas and Hits Through the Years tour, with special guest Linda Davis, kicks off tonight (November 12th) in Ontario, Canada. The tourmates will visit 22 North American cities before wrapping December 23rd in Westbury, New York. This trek marks the legend’s 33rd holiday tour… and it’s probably safe to say not his last.
“I don’t know what I would do if I retired; that scares me,” “The Gambler” tells us. “[My wife] Wanda and I have talked about it. She says, ‘What are you going to do if you retire? Come home and sit on the couch and watch TV all day?’ That’s all right maybe for a week. Getting there is not as fun as it used to be, but once I get there, there is no place I would rather be.”