One last time, Kenny Rogers will just drop into Atlantic City to see what condition the city’s condition is in.
If you recognize that as a play on words from the entertainer’s first big hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”, then you’ve probably been a fan — or at least familiar with Rogers’ work — long before the singer-songwriter became a household name for the country-crossover hit songs he began releasing over 40 years ago.
Now, at 78, the man nicknamed “The Gambler,” after his towering 1978 hit song of the same name, is taking a career victory lap.
Actually, a couple of laps. In 2015, Rogers said his next two-year tour, “The Gambler’s Last Deal,” would be his swan song.
“I’ve had a great life, I can’t complain, but it’s time for me to hang it up,” Rogers said quietly in a video posted on his website when he announced his retirement.
Holiday tunes will be performed during “Songs for the Season,” six joy-filled mini concerts …
Rogers is retiring from the entertainment business in order to focus on a job he now realizes is just as important as singing, writing songs and making albums, TV shows and movies.
Rogers has five children. The three oldest range in age from their mid-30s to early 50s.
“I have three older boys and I didn’t get to spend this time with them, and I resent it,” he says.
Married five times, Rogers and wife Wanda, who’ve been married 20 years, have twin 13-year-old sons, Jordan and Justin. Kenny is determined to give his younger boys the attention they deserve, something he couldn’t do with his older kids when he was touring or recording or simply taking care of the business end of show business.
“I’ve done everything I set out to do,” Rogers explained during a media teleconference to announce his retirement.
“Every goal I’ve set, I’ve done that, and there’s a point where you have to say, ‘I’ve had my turn. Let someone else have it,’” he says. “And that’s kind of where I am. It’s not that I dislike music. It’s just that I can’t keep doing this and do what I want to do.”
Rogers, who can now see the finish line as his two-year concert tour winds down, will bring back a tradition that had been part of his holiday tour for decades. After a break of about seven years, the Holiday & Hits version of “The Gambler’s Last Deal” will make one final stop in Atlantic City, where the show was once considered a seasonal rite of passage.
Rogers will perform 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, in The Grand at the Golden Nugget.
For a decade or more, the holidays didn’t officially arrive at the former Trump Taj Mahal until Rogers brought his Christmas show to the Boardwalk.
Before he became a regular at the Taj, he would often wind up playing whatever casino jumped in first with the best offer. No matter where he played, casino guests were never disappointed with Rogers’ holiday program, because it offered the best of two worlds: the colorful and festive holiday season and the world of Rogers’ music, with songs like “Lucille,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” “Lady” and “She Believes in Me,” which are just a few of the dozens of Top 10 and No. 1 hits he’s had during the various stages of his career.
Rare was a Kenny Rogers Holiday & Hits show that didn’t have a spontaneous audience sing-along when the star got to the holiday songs.
The last time he played A.C. during the holidays, then-Mayor Lorenzo Langford presented the entertainer with a key to the city.
Rogers said he would add it to his collection of 12 “city keys” he’d collected during his decades in show business.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s somewhat routine for folks to run to …
Something else was special for Rogers about doing his annual holiday tour: watching at least two generations of fans grow up before his eyes. Families made a tradition of attending his holiday shows.
“Not many people get to see the end of the rainbow, and I think I have,” he says. “I think I’ve had the beauty of this career and the beauty of getting to know (the fans) daily out on the road and watching you and your kids grow up with me during my Christmas tour every year.”
Rogers said there’s a fine line between being selfish and being driven, and he admits he’s crossed the line a lot when he was younger.
“I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with my older boys,” he says. “And I regret that now. And I’ve decided that my goal now is to stay home and help Wanda raise Justin and Jordan, and be as much of an influence on them as my mother and father were on me. ‘Cause that’s what parents are for.”