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Kenny Rogers knows when to walk away

Adam Fulton Arts Writer
concert photos by Ray Tharaldson all rights reserved 2012
KENNY Rogers has been remembering things he had long forgotten. The country music giant is putting the final touches on his autobiography, due out in October, and there's a lot to get through when you've chalked up more than 50 years of performing and 120 million album sales, not to mention five marriages.
But the singer isn't expecting the book to ruffle any feathers.
"No - I said going into it that I'm not going to write anything anyone can challenge. That's not what I'm about," he says. The memoir charts his musical journey from his beginnings as the fourth of seven children in a poor Texas family to today.
''It stirs up certain emotions that you'd forgotten about. Particularly when your life has been as busy as mine - it's kind of hard to keep up with things," Rogers says brightly in a southern drawl.
"I must admit I enjoyed writing it. I enjoyed that process. I don't know that I'd want to do it again."
There's more than a little of that pleasure and pain in Rogers' experiences in a solo career that reached the heights of fame in the late 1970s and '80s through hits such as The Gambler, Lucille, Coward of the County and, with Dolly Parton, Islands In the Stream. He has had 24 No.1s.
"Once I started with Lucille [in 1977], it was like an indescribable career for anybody, so you have a look at that and say: how can you not have enjoyed that?" Rogers says. "But I have to tell ya: too much success is not good either. I'm at a great place right now where I sign enough autographs to satisfy my ego, but not so many that it invades my privacy."
In 2009, Rogers launched extensive touring under the anniversary banner: The First 50 Years. He still performs or records about 100 days annually. But turning 74 next week, with a much younger wife and twin eight-year-old boys at home in Atlanta, he expects his Australian concerts will be his last here.
"This is probably gonna be my last international tour,'' he says. It's because his family can't be with him. ''So I think when I come back … that's gonna be it. I'm gonna stay home then.
''I'll continue to tour the [United] States. I'd just like to be able to get home [more] so I can spend what I think is quality time with the boys … I really wanna be there for 'em instead of being gone all the time."
Rogers has said his one regret is the toll his pursuit of success had on his relationships.
But, ''I don't want to go back and rehash things that I was honest about and paid the price for. I don't want to pay it again.''
Glen Campbell was to appear on a double bill with Rogers in Australia but cancelled because of health issues. For Rogers, ''All I want to say is that the sooner we find a cure for Alzheimer's, the sooner we will end a lot of disappointment and suffering.''
The evolution of country since both performers' early days sits easily with Rogers, who believes "there's not one right or one wrong country music - it's what country people will buy''.
Of its influence on young acts today, he says: ''Now it's about youth, about growing up, the problems you have as a kid. … It's just a new place for country music to grow.''

But for him the era of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and George Jones captured country's essence.

''That's the era where you felt the pain. Now the pain has become so intellectual. It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's just where music is."
From his own canon, Rogers' favourites include The Gambler - "really a philosophy about life", says a man who doesn't consider himself a gambler, and doesn't drink - and the duet Islands In The Stream.
"With Dolly it's always wonderful. I don't see her. Everybody thinks we hang out, but she lives in Nashville and I live in Atlanta. So we talk when it's necessary but we don't talk on a regular basis, not because we don't want to, but we both have our own pyramids … But I love her with all my heart and she knows it.''
Kenny Rogers, with guest Troy Cassar-Daley, performs at the Palais Theatre on Thursday.

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