Chris Stapleton, The Judds, Lionel Richie, Idina Menzel, Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum and more took the stage at Bridgestone Arena in October of 2017 for “All In For The Gambler,” a farewell concert celebration for Kenny Rogers. But, it was Rogers’ appearance with Dolly Parton that was the night’s most anticipated event.
The two friends shared the stage and swapped stories and memories from their decades-long friendship.
In addition to performing their 1983 award winning hit “Islands In The Stream,” Dolly sang her beloved tune “I Will Always Love You” to Kenny. As Dolly sang, and emotional Kenny sat on a stool with his arm around her. The auditorium was silent, no doubt because everyone was fighting back tears as they witnessed this truly personal and heartfelt moment between the country legends.
The night’s concert was the first time in 12 years that Parton, 71, and Rogers, 79, performed together in public, and marked the last time the two performed together as Kenny entered retirement.
“That’s always been kind of a rub with me when people retire 10 times,” Rogers told Fox News earlier this year. “I’m going out because I need to go out and I’m going to enjoy my time at home with my wife and kids. I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.”
Kenny passed away 2 1/2 years later on March 20, 2020. Dolly took to social media to express her heartbreak after Kenny’s death, saying:
“Well, I couldn’t believe it this morning when I got up and 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. I know that we all know that Kenny is in a better place than we are today, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be talking to God some time today if he ain’t already, and he’s going to be asking him to spread some light on a bunch of this darkness going on here.”
“I loved Kenny with all my heart…And my heart is broken. A big ol’ chunk of it has gone with him today. I think that I can speak for all his family, his friends, and fans, when I say that I will always love you.”
See Dolly sing “I Will Always Love You” to Kenny Rogers for the last time in the video below.