From Minstrel to LSD to Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers, who recently passed a way, created some outstanding hit songs.

5/3/20232 min read

Kenny Rogers in later years
Kenny Rogers in later years

"just Dropped In" was written by Mickey Newbury and first performed by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1967. Original intent was to write in the person about being a "dopehead" or a "junkie". I have no idea if Newbury was ever addicted to any illegal substance, but he was a damn good "outlaw" songwriter as seen by this unusual hit. A year later The First Edition, featuring Kenny Rogers, picked up on the number. The tune didn't go very far until they performed it on the Smother's Brothers show, as a psychedelic feature. After this surreal rendition, the song took off and it never let go of its "Acid" overtones.

Now fast forward 30 years to when the Coen brothers included a trippy music interlude, called Gutterballs that featured yet another interpretation of Newberry's original composition. This visual "good trip" to "bad trip" vignette has become a Hollywood classic. Incidentally, Kenny Rogers and his bandmates did not stay in the psychedelic mode for very long. For soon thereafter, they released a string of hits all of which received much popularity and airtime on Country stations. With such hits as "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town" and "Reuben James", it was now obvious that Rogers was headed in a new direction, one that would ultimately lead to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Just Dropped In

Kenny Rogers performing in later years

Rogers Finds His Groove With the Gambler

"And the Best You Can Hope For Is to Die in Your Sleep"

Without a doubt, Kenny Rogers' greatest hit was "The Gambler", which in 1978 made it to the top of the Country charts and didn't do badly as a Pop crossover hit. Don Schlitz wrote the tune in 1976, but it took someone with Kenny's vocal talents to realize the song's full potential. Since Rogers' version gained such popularity, "The Gambler" has been covered by many legendary singers.

A Touch of Religion

Kenny Rogers (1938-2020) got his first big break performing with the New Christy Minstrels, a large musical conglomeration, which can best described as a Christian, big band, folk ensemble. Formed in 1961 by Randy Sparks, this unusual bad has gone on to record over twenty albums, which over the years, has featured dozens of talented musicians and singers.

In 1967, Rogers and several others, left the Minstrels to form the basis of their own rock'n roll band, The First Edition. A year later, The First Edition released their first LP album and thanks to the success of one song (Just Dropped In), they became a part of the late sixties "rock explosion".

The First Edition at the height of their success
The First Edition at the height of their success

The First Edition was a popular late sixties rock band.