Initially, Bynum turned that line into the story of a blind guitar player, but songwriter Roger Bowling stepped into the picture and helped Hal convert the tune to a barroom situation. After “Lucille” was finished, Bowling took the song to Larry Butler, who played it for two of the UA artists in his stable, both of whom turned it down.
Butler slipped in “Lucille” among a batch of 30 songs he wanted Rogers to consider for his second album. After several days of recording, they had just 15 minutes left on their final session at American Studios. Kenny felt they were out of time, but Butler insisted they could learn “Lucille.” Larry went over the song with the band, played it for them one time, rehearsed it one time, turned on the machines and the one and only take was the cut they used. Literally, “Lucille” was started and finished in just fifteen minutes!
Rogers’ raspy performance captivated not just the country market, but the public at large. While “Lucille” spent two weeks atop Billboard’s country chart, it also ascended to #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart, eclipsing Kenny’s #6 peak for “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” in 1969. “Lucille” quickly sold a million copies, which led to the song winning a total of seven awards combined between the Grammys, the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
Ironically, Kenny Rogers’ mother was named Lucille.