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Singer Kenny Rogers, famed for The Gambler, dies at 81

The country music legend was also an actor and a restaurateur.

Singer Kenny Rogers, the white-bearded country music legend famed for such hits as The Gambler, has died at age 81, his official Twitter account announced Friday on social media. "The Rogers family is sad to announce that Kenny Rogers passed away last night at 10:25 p.m. at the age of 81," the tweet read. "Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family."

Rogers won three Grammy Awards and six CMA Awards over his six-decade musical career. He earned the nickname The Gambler after his 1978 hit of the same name, written by songwriter Don Schlitz, about a mysterious card player who delivers sage advice to a stranger on the train before dying in his sleep. The song became one of five consecutive No. 1 hits for Rogers, in what would be a career total of 24 No. 1-charting songs. Other top hits for the singer included She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life, Coward of the County, Lucille, Lady, Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, and Through the Years. He sang numerous hit duets with female musicians, including Dottie West, Dolly Parton and Sheena Easton. 

Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, and received the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award that same year. He was honored with the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015. Rogers was voted the "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a joint poll by readers of USA Today and People. 

Rogers also acted. He starred in the 1982 movie Six Pack, as well as in TV movies based on several of his songs, and made appearances on such shows as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

In 1991, he opened a chain of chicken restaurants, Kenny Rogers Roasters. The chain was the centerpiece of a 1996 Seinfeld episode in which the character Kramer (Michael Richards) couldn't sleep due to the red light of a Kenny Rogers Roasters location shining into his bedroom, then finds himself addicted to the chicken. The chain no longer has US locations, but still operates in some Asian countries.

Fans remembered Rogers on social media.

"Kenny Rogers was one of the best entertainers ever and he will be sorely missed," wrote one Twitter user. "There was only one Kenny Rogers -- nobody sounded like him. 

The Rogers family said in the full statement that they are planning a small private service because of the COVID-19 outbreak and will celebrate the singer's life publicly at a later date.