(written by Lionel Richie)
Kenny Rogers (# 1 country, #1 pop, 1980)
The old adage “quit while you’re ahead” applied to Kenny Rogers during the year of 1980. Five years after teaming with producer Larry Butler, Kenny had become the biggest draw in the country music industry, and he chose that period to end his artist/producer relationship with Butler.
The year began with “Coward Of The County” hitting #1 on the Billboard country chart and #3 on the pop side. A duet with Kim Carnes (“Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer”) surged to #3 country and #4 pop, followed by “Love The World Away” (from the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack) reaching #4 country and #14 pop.
Rogers’ record label (United Artists) prepared a “Greatest Hits” album for the pre-Christmas buying frenzy and while on top of his game, Kenny looked for a method to energize his creativity. While ending his association with Butler, he found a new producer, surprising many by teaming with Lionel Richie from the R & B act “The Commodores.
Rogers was enamored with Commodore hits “Three Times A Lady” and “Easy,” and contacted Motown Records founder Barry Gordy to see if the band might be interested in working with him. Gordy conveyed the message to the Commodores, which had been forced to cancel a 96-day concert tour after drummer Walter Orange was involved in a motorcycle accident.