Kenny Rogers' memorable songs include early rock and folk material, country classics, and an equally rewarding catalog of pop-friendly love ballads. Each career step led to the Country Music Hall of Fame and, more impressively, a spot in popular culture reached by a select group of country artists.
Read on for a career-spanning playlist of Rogers' best songs, then let us know your favorites.
15. "Love Lifted Me"
Let's begin with this tribute to an early 20th-century hymn that Rogers would go on to sing with The Muppets.
14. "Buy Me a Rose" (With Alison Krauss and Billy Dean)
At age 61, Rogers became the oldest artist with a No. 1 country single with this 1999 Krauss and Dean team-up. It was Rogers' first chart-topper since 1987's "Make No Mistake, She's Mine," a duet with Ronnie Milsap.
13. "You Can't Make Old Friends" (With Dolly Parton)
Rogers and Parton wrapped up a classic musical partnership in 2013 with a 21st-century highlight for both legends. It's especially hard now to hear the Parton line "How will I sing when you're gone?/Because it won't sound the same."
12. "Through the Years"
Many of Rogers' love songs and ballads just sound timeless, including this co-write by Barry Manilow collaborator Marty Panzer and country songwriter Steve Dorff (George Strait's "I Cross My Heart").
11. "Sweet Music Man"
Rogers established himself as a solo star with the potential for longevity with this gorgeous cut off his 1977 album Daytime Friends.
10. "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"
Rogers' legend began with this late '60s hit by his early career band, The First Edition. It was written by Mickey Newbury.
9. "Islands in the Stream" (With Dolly Parton)
Rogers cut a pop album of songs intended for The Bee Gees in 1983. The album was titled Eyes That See in The Dark, and its hit single was the now timeless Dolly Parton duet "Islands in the Stream." Yeah, it's pop and not country, but it's as great a pop song as you'll find from a decade blessed with plenty of great pop songs.
Rogers leaned more toward pop music in the '80s, beginning with this inescapable earworm which was written by one of his closest friends in all of popular music, Lionel Richie.
7. "Everytime Two Fools Collide" (With Dottie West)
One of the great duet teams of the '70s brought us this classic, as well as "All I Ever Need is You," "Til I Can Make It On My Own" and "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight."
6. "Love Will Turn You Around"
Rogers struck a healthy balance between post-Urban Cowboy Nashville and his pre-existing, pop-friendly course with this, one of his best co-writes.
5. "You Decorated My Life"
The 1979 album Kenny would be enough to make Rogers a country music legend, and it included one of his greatest crossover successes: a number one on the country charts and a top 10 pop hit.
Rogers was a great country song interpreter with good taste in songwriters. For instance, it's hard to imagine anyone else breathing life into this story co-written by Hal Bynum (Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash's "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang" and Patty Loveless' "Chains").
3. "Coward of the County"
While many of Rogers' best songs prove that the narrow differences between pop and country shouldn't matter, this story-song co-written by Billy Ed Wheeler (co-writer of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's "Jackson") is undoubtedly country.
2. "The Gambler"
This Grammy-winning Don Schlitz composition defines country music for fans of a certain age, and upon Rogers' death, it was the most quoted song from a catalog full of memorable lyrics.
1. "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"
This country classic's a double-whammy: It's one of Rogers' greatest hits, and you could just as easily argue that it's the best song Mel Tillis ever wrote.