A Kenny Rogers tribute concert special that was filmed before the country-pop superstar’s death, “Kenny Rogers: All In for the Gambler,” has been set for airing later this month on CBS.
Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie, Reba McEntire, Little Big Town, Lady A and Idina Menzel are the guests who took part in the epic show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 25, 2017 who also made the cut for the hour-long broadcast at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sept. 23.
Rogers, who died on March 20, 2020, at age 81, participated in the 2017 show, which was billed as his swan song following a retirement announcement, although he didn’t sing at great length.
The grand finale of the salute had Rogers taking the stage for three final numbers with Parton, including duets of “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and “Islands in the Stream” that sandwiched a Parton solo rendition of “I Will Always Love You” that she sang with her arm around him.
Other highlights from that night that fans should expect to see reprised on the special included Richie performing “Lady,” Menzel and Lady A’s Charles Kelley doing a duet of “We’ve Got Tonight,” Lady A doing “She Believes in Me” on their own, McEntire singing “Reuben James,” Little Big Town doing “Through the Years” and Stapleton performing the show’s sort-of title song, “The Gambler.”
The lineup for the special omits a good number of artists who weren’t able to be squeezed into the hour-long show — including the Flaming Lips, whose arrangement of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” that night will still have to remain a mystery for now for those not in attendance.
“Kenny Rogers’ enormous impact on country music was matched only by the love all the artists and fans showed Kenny on this incredible night,” executive producers Keith Wortman and Ken Levitan said in a joint statement. “We are so thrilled to share this special with his friends, family and fans all around the world, as he will remain forever in our hearts.”
The concert was produced by Blackbird Presents, which already had one Rogers special in the form of “Biography: Kenny Rogers,” and has also been responsible for broadcast and/or live events saluting Willie Nelson, John Lennon, Dr. John, Mavis Staples, Gregg Allman, Emmylou Harris and Merle Haggard.