27 years ago, three country legends shared the stage in one of the most-talked about televised music events in history. Kenny, Dolly and Willie: Something Inside So Strong, aired on NBC on May 20, 1989, and was a huge ratings success. In fact, it was such a hit that it went on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series.
The special was filmed to promote Kenny Rogers‘ new album Something Inside So Strong, and he decided to bring on his good friends Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson to help him out. It was filmed in Rogers’ hometown of Houston, Texas, with the audience consisting of NASA employees and their families. The night was one none of them would ever forget, and neither would the countless others tuning in from the comfort of their own homes.
No one was quite sure what to expect when the three beloved artists took the stage, but the result was nothing short of magical. They ended taking the audience on a seven minute ride through a medley of each other’s hits, in which they freely traded turns signing the lead.
In a short clip from the beginning of the medley, Nelson and Parton are shown on stage but Rogers is nowhere to be seen. After complimenting each other’s songwriting, Nelson started off singing Parton’s classic song about her childhood, “Coat of Many Colors.” Parton eventually joined in with him, making for a sweet duet the crowd loved.
Then, Parton broke into the famous chorus to Rogers’ signature song “The Gambler.” It wasn’t long before Rogers himself appeared from backstage to sing along with Parton, and the crowd really went wild then.
It’s a true treat to watch these three legends perform together, so we hope you enjoy the clip from their medley below.
We sure would love to see Parton, Nelson, and Rogers do another special like this sometime in the future!