Kenny Rogers: "Music Is the Great Memory-Maker of All Time"
Even with a storied career spanning more than five decades already firmly implanted in the American pop culture landscape, country music legend Kenny Rogers is still breaking new ground, furthering his achievements, and streamlining his talents.
Piper Ferguson Kenny Rogers is scheduled to perform on Sunday, March 23, at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler.
In 2013 alone, Rogers found himself accepting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, earning his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, publishing the novel What Are the Chances, releasing his 22nd Top 10 Country Album, You Can't Make Old Friends, as well as receiving a Grammy Award nomination for a duet with Dolly Parton on the album's title track.
Oh yeah, and the Professional Photographers of America awarded Rogers with an Honorary Masters of Photography this past January at a ceremony right here in Phoenix.
"It's been a great year," Rogers tells me in his identifiable soft, raspy voice with a bit of a chuckle. "I don't know what to look for next."
Fans may be wondering why the flare for photography? Well, it's simply in his nature and his never-settle-for-less, championship mentality. It is the same kind of winning quality and characteristic that NFL teams seek year after year when hunting that ever-elusive franchise quarterback. Or, to hear Rogers sum it up--"I impulsively get involved with something and I obsess with it. Once I do something kind of well, I think, 'How well can I do this?' and I apply myself. That's what gets me through the days out here."
Simply put--the 75 year old musician is still kicking ass while also teaching these modern day musical youngsters a thing or two about standing the test of time.
"Pay your taxes on time, and put twenty percent away," Rogers advises as if he were channeling "The Gambler" wisdom on knowing when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em. "Some of the young talent won't have a dime when they're fifty years old, because they go through it with total disregard for when it ends. And the problem is, it will end-- that's the nature of the business."
Up on the Sun spoke with Rogers in the days leading up to his performance at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler this Sunday. He talks in-depth with us about the best album he's ever made, his view of the music industry in the last fifty years, teaching people English through his music, and so much more.
You were recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and won a lifetime achievement award.
The Country Music Hall of Fame was a great experience. I said at the time that I am so glad it didn't happen at the peak of my success, because I'm not sure that I would have appreciated it as much. I have identical twin boys that are nine years old, I have two grown sons who live in California, and for all of us to be together with my wife and my brothers and sisters really meant a lot to me to finally accomplish and achieve that.
With the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, those things are always wonderful, and I really appreciated being considered [for it], and I appreciated winning. This past year, I've also been given an Honorary Masters Degree of Photography by the Professional Photographers Association. It's been a great year! I don't know what to look for next. [laughs]
Can you describe your passion for photography?
Well, I'm an impulsive obsessive. I impulsively get involved with something and I obsess with it. Once I do something kind of well, I think, "How well can I do this?" and I apply myself. That's what gets me through the days out here. When you travel like we do, you have an hour and a half of this incredibly emotional high at nighttime where people are laughing and clapping and singing, but then you've got twenty-two and a half hours of nothing to do. So, I've always tried to fill that time with positive things, because I don't want to get into drugs, I never wanted to do that. I didn't know what else to do while I was on the road.
I love my ability to succeed in all of these genres. You know, I actually played tennis for ten years. [I] played eight hours a day, carried the tennis pole with me on the road, and developed a national ranking in doubles just from working hard and spending a lot of time at it. So, that's my nature.