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5 Unforgettable Moments From Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert

Kenny-Rogers-Dolly-parton
Courtesy of Webster PR

Kenny Rogers may have a few more shows in him, but Wednesday night’s (Oct. 25) All in for the Gambler concert in Nashville was his official last call. Nearly three dozen musicians honored him with tribute performances, many sharing stories as good as the songs themselves.

These are the five best moments from the 20 performances at Bridgestone Arena. Highlights that didn’t make our best of list? Reba McEntire wearing a Kenny Rogers T-shirt as she sang “Reuben James” and Lionel Richie recreating “Lady.” Justin Moore, Billy Currington and Alison Kruass were also strong, but not quite as memorable as …

No. 5: Wynonna Judd and the Judds!

A sold-out Bridgestone Arena came to their feet for Wynonna Judd, and her big, soulful performance of “You Turn the Light On” did not disappoint. Then her mother Naomi tip-toed to the stage to sing “Back to the Well.” But it wouldn’t be a true Judds performance without some of their famous banter, would it?

As they greeted Rogers, Naomi asked to tell a story in which she shared an anecdote from the movie set of Rio Diablo that involved Travis Tritt running around to get sweaty and the director eventually having to separate her from the singing Gambler. They couldn’t stop laughing!

No. 4: Aaron Lewis Singing “Coward of the County”

Prior to the show Aaron Lewis told Taste of Country how much Rogers’ music and this song in particular means to him. It was his grandfather’s favorite when he was growing up — in fact, Lewis heard it so often he got sick of it.

This early show moment became the first of many crowd singalongs, with the outlaw country singer perfectly interpreting the controversial lyric. It was a great performance of an under-appreciated Rogers hit.

No. 3: Jamey Johnson’s Version of “Sweet Music Man”

Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss are frequent guests at Nashville tribute shows because they’re able to interpret such a wide range of stories in unique, but familiar ways. The bearded country outlaw hit a home run with this ballad, turning it into a hear-a-pin-drop moment before taking on a very rocking rendition of “Just Dropped In” by Rogers’ group the First Edition.

No. 2: Charles Kelley and Idina Menzel Doing “We’ve Got Tonight”

There were a few odd pairings and unexpected appearances (who would’ve guessed the Flaming Lips were so moved by Kenny Rogers?), and this one seemed out of left field until they began. The chemistry between Charles Kelley and Menzel isn’t of the Kelley/Hillary Scott quality, but it’s pretty darn good. He was smart to let her take those high notes alone during their second half version of Rogers’ “We’ve Got Tonight” (originally recorded with Sheena Easton). From there, the show began the sad trip home, ending with …

No. 1: Kenny and Dolly, One Final Time

Le sigh. All great things end, it seems. The humor was there on Wednesday night, and while Rogers looked to be suffering from bad knees, he was a good sport as Parton lightly roasted him. She referred to his famous lyric in “The Gambler” and cracked “We’ve been accused of it all through the years … you are retiring. You wanna hold ’em now?”

The female half of this timeless partnership joined him for “You Can’t Make Old Friends” before singing “I Will Always Love You” and, finally “Islands in the Stream.” The best part was the very end of the show, when Parton suggested they go out like rock stars with a full mic-drop. If those microphones broke, it was worth it.

Dolly and Kenny Probably Aren’t Done Collaborating, So Don’t Worry

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