Dolly Parton is mourning the death of her friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers.
Hours after news broke of the country music icon’s death at 81, Parton posted a heartfelt video tribute to Rogers.
“Well, I couldn’t believe it this morning when I got up, turned on the TV, checking to see what the coronavirus was doing and they told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away,” said Parton, 74, whose duet with Rogers, “Islands in the Stream,” reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1983.
“I know that we all know that Kenny’s in a better place than we are today but I’m for sure he’s going to be talking to God some time today if he’s ain’t already, and going to be asking him to spread some light onto this darkness going on here,” she added. “But I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart’s broken and a big ole chunk has gone with him today.”
Referencing one of her own hits, Parton added: “I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends, his fans, when I say that I will always love you.”
Holding back tears, Parton held up a framed photograph of the pair together.
“Just happened to have this picture of us when I walked out this morning and I thought well, maybe I’ll hold that up to everybody,” she said. “So I know you’re sad as I am but God bless you, Kenny. Fly high straight to the arms of God and to the rest of you, keep the faith.”
“You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” Parton wrote alongside the emotional video. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”
Concluding the message, she added, “So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly.”
In a touching comment, Reba McEntire, whose mother died earlier last week, wrote: “Dolly he sure loved you. What a character. There never has been and never will be another one like him.”
Rogers’ family announced the singer’s death in a statement on Saturday morning.
“The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25PM at the age of 81. Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” they wrote on Rogers’ social media pages.
“The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” the statement continued.
The Country Hall of Fame singer’s death was also mourned by many artists in the country world.
“I can’t express on twitter the impact Kenny Rogers the artist and the man had on me. He was always very kind and fun to be around. Rest In Peace Gambler…” wrote Blake Shelton, referencing Rogers’ signature song “The Gambler.”
“One of the greatest examples of integrity I have ever known,” added Wynonna Judd, alongside a photo of the pair standing with Lionel Richie, who wrote Rogers’ hit 1980 song “Lady.”
Over his five decades-long career, Rogers sold more than 100 million records and won a number of major awards, including three Grammys and 18 American Music Awards.
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