Kenny Rogers’ tour is all about Christmas spiritKenny Rogers may be known for his white beard, “The Gambler,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and a soft, mellifluous country-and-western voice, but this time of year he’s all about one thing: Christmas.
Kenny Rogers may be known for his white beard, “The Gambler,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and a soft, mellifluous country-and-western voice, but this time of year he’s all about one thing: Christmas.
Rogers’ annual “Christmas and Hits” tour includes his eight-piece band, a duet with an on-screen Wynonna Judd during “Mary Did You Know” and rotating backup choirs he picks up from local schools and children’s groups.
Here are five things you might not have known about “The Gambler” and his holiday obsession:
1. None of this “happy holidays” stuff for Rogers. His show is proudly religious. “What happened to ‘Merry Christmas’?” he recently asked a reporter. “Someone said, ‘We’re not allowed to say that.’ Well, I am, so, Merry Christmas!”
2. Rogers has put out at least eight albums with “Christmas” in the title, from 1984’s “Once Upon a Christmas” to last year’s “Christmas Live.” The best? Well, that first one is a duet with Dolly Parton, and the then-massive country stars’ voices mesh nicely on cornball, synth-heavy hymns such as “Christmas Without You.” Plus, the wreathy cover – starring Dolly snuggling with Kenny, his Santa cap and a reindeer – is not to be missed.
3. A heckler originally inspired the holiday show. In the ’80s, somebody in the crowd shouted, “Hey, it’s December. Aren’t you going to do some Christmas music?” Rogers complied, with “O Holy Night,” he told the Vancouver Sun recently.
4. The show added “... and Hits” early on because of another heckler. “Some guy yelled out for me to sing ‘Ruby,’ ” Rogers told the Sun. “So we ended up putting together what we do now, which is half a show where we sing our hits and the other half where we sing Christmas songs.”
5. Rogers started doing his holiday show a little more than a decade after his first major hit, “Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In),” by his band the First Edition. This fact has nothing to do with Christmas, but the psychedelic classic with the fuzztone guitar solos is so great we had to mention it someplace.