Kenny Rogers Holding Strong 30 Years After ‘Greatest Hits’

Kenny Rogers career has taken a lamentable turn in recent years, and the country legend finds his name more closely associated with friend chicken than musical achievements. Let’s take a second to celebrate his career, and the 30th anniversary of his most popular album, ‘Greatest Hits.’

Kenny Rogers Holding Strong 30 Years After 'Greatest Hits'

It was thirty years ago today that ‘Greatest Hits’ landed in the number one slot on Billboard’s pop chart. Rogers had already scored a slew of top hits in the country category, but the collection’s explosive sales was his the first — and last — time one of his albums dominated the mainstream market.

Though the Lionel Richie-penned single “Lady” fueled much of the album’s sales, ‘Greatest Hits’ also exposed a new demographic to Rogers’ already iconic songs, like ‘The Gambler’ and ‘Lucille,’ thus cementing Rogers’ status as a living country legend.

And that’s how we see him today, as a country musician, complete with his own chicken franchise. It wasn’t always this way, however: Rogers went through various incarnations before becoming the man we know and love.

In honor of Rogers’ long and expansive career, as well as Greatest Hits’ timeless appeal, here’s a run-down of some of Rogers’ other aural personalities.

The Scholars: a mid-50s doo-wop group in which Rogers sang backup, The Scholars broke up after three singles, including one called “Poor Little Doggie,” and “Kenneth Rogers” pursued a short-lived solo career before joining…

The Bobby Doyle Trio: a jazz group that was eventually signed to Columbia records, but broke up in 1965. One year later, hooked up with…

The New Christy Minstrel: a folk group whose debut album won a Grammy in 1962, and later thematic records, like one based on tall tales and another featuring hits from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was released in 1968, one year after Rogers and other members left to form…

The First Edition: a far more flower power sound than what Rogers’ is know for today, First Edition found moderate success thanks in part to their single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In),” a video of which is included here:

It soon became clear that Rogers was the band’s breakout star, and First Edition used his name as the anchor, becoming “Kenny Rogers and The First Edition” before breaking up in 1976, leaving Rogers to strike forth on his own to settle into the country character that became a household name.

Now, as this day winds down, do yourself a favor and turn on some ‘Greatest Hits’ and recognize the genius, camp and American splendor called Kenny Rogers. And, just for good measure, ‘The Gambler:’