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Kenny Rogers Calls Don Schlitz ‘My Go-To Guy’ Ahead of Country Music Hall of Fame Induction

Kenny Rogers Don Schlitz Country Music Hall of Fame
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

When songwriter Don Schlitz was announced as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Class of 2017, perhaps no one was more excited than fellow Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers. The singer recorded several of Schlitz’s hit songs throughout his career, including “The Greatest,” “You Can’t Make Old Friends” (a duet with Dolly Parton) and “The Gambler,” the latter of which was Schlitz’s first hit as a songwriter.

“I love giving people chances and breaks,” Rogers shared with The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. “It makes you feel good about yourself. To me, it allows me to go forward in my career with my head up.”

Rogers had the idea for his duet with Parton, meanwhile, thanks to an impromptu run-in with someone on the West Coast, who uttered the title phrase to Rogers. But although it was Rogers’ who initiated the song’s creation, the 79-year-old says all the credit for it belongs to Schlitz.

“I called Don Schlitz, and I told him this, and the next day, he sent me that song,” Rogers recalls. “In one day, he wrote that, which I thought was great.”

Rogers will be the guest of honor at an upcoming tribute concert, All in for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration, which will be held on Oct. 25 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Linda Davis, Jamey Johnson, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum, and Wynonna Judd are among those scheduled to appear.

Schlitz will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with Alan Jackson and songwriter Jerry Reed. The induction ceremony will be held on Oct. 22.

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