Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Marty Stuart honored country legend Kenny Rogers during the Saturday night broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. Rogers passed away on the evening of March 20. He was 81 years old.
Gill, Paisley and Stuart wasted no time preparing a tribute to the late Country Music Hall of Fame member, performing Rogers' "Sweet Music Man" from the cherished "circle" to a mostly empty Opry house. (Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Grand Ole Opry will be broadcast without an audience.)
With just their guitars (and seated at least six feet apart, as recommended by the CDC), the three artists delivered a heartfelt, tender tribute to Rogers.
"Just, (with) the loss of Kenny today, it felt like the most appropriate thing we could do," Gill said. "Just honor a great, great man."
Stuart reflected on how the Opry has remained a constant in the lives of music fans for 94 years and will remain a constant even in these strange times.
"Country music is no stranger to hard times. The Grand Ole Opry is no stranger to hard times, either," Marty Stuart said. It's 94 years old and has been through world wars, catastrophes, and presidential assassinations, but somehow the show has just gone right along and never gone off the air."
Rogers wrote and recorded "Sweet Music Man" for his 1977 album Daytime Friends. The song was later recorded by Rogers' dear friend Dolly Parton for her 1977 album Here You Come Again. The song has been covered by several artists throughout the years, including Tammy Wynette, Dottie West and Waylon Jennings.
"I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart's broken and a big ol' chunk is gone with him today," Parton said. I think I can speak for all his family, his friends and fans when I say 'I will always love you.'"