Kenny Rogers became one of the most enduring superstars in country music history, but he was a middle-aged man looking for an unlikely comeback when he scored his first No. 1 country hit in 1977.

Rogers was born in 1938, and he launched his career in 1958 with a minor single called "That Crazy Feeling." He went on to stints in a jazz band called the Bobby Doyle Three and a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels before splitting off to form the First Edition.

That group gave Rogers his first taste of mainstream success, scoring hits on both the rock and country charts with songs including "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Reuben James" and "Something's Burning." But by the time the group disbanded in 1976, Rogers was just a few years shy of 40 and left to start all over again as a solo artist.

He scored some smaller successes at country radio with his first solo album, Love Lifted Me, but it wasn't until Rogers released his self-titled second album in 1977 that he established himself as a solo country star. Rogers hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in April of 1977 with "Lucille," a plaintive barroom song about a man whose wife has left him with "four hungry children and a crop in the field."

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Recorded at Nashville's American Studio on Aug. 5, 1976, "Lucille" also became one of Rogers' biggest hits overseas, hitting No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart the week of June 18, 1977. He'd go on to become one of the breakout musical superstars of the '70s and '80s, landing a long string of country hits that included "Daytime Friends," "The Gambler," "She Believes in Me," "Coward of the County," "Lady," "Islands in the Stream" and many more. Rogers sustained his run of No. 1 hits all the way through 1999, scoring his final chart-topper with "Buy Me a Rose."

Rogers retired from touring with a splashy all-star concert in Nashville in 2017, and he died on Friday evening (March 20), leaving behind one of the greatest legacies of any musician of his generation.

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