By the Way

Kenny Rogers says goodbye to the Gulf Coast forever with final area show

Kenny Rogers brought “The Gambler’s Last Deal” to the Saenger Theater in New Orleans on Saturday.
Kenny Rogers brought “The Gambler’s Last Deal” to the Saenger Theater in New Orleans on Saturday. Webster Public Relations

After more than 50 years on the road, Kenny Rogers is looking forward to a much-deserved retirement. But before he puts his mic down forever, Rogers is in the final stages of a farewell tour.

Rogers said goodbye to the Gulf Coast on Saturday as “The Gambler’s Last Deal” stopped by the Saenger Theater for a sold-out show where he performed about 20 songs in just under two hours.

The show spanned Rogers’ entire career, from his days with The Bobby Doyle Three in the early 1960s to his time with The First Edition and as a solo artist who had hits on both the country and pop charts.

Rogers had three video screens on his stage that showed highlights of his career, from appearances on “The Tonight Show” to a solo take on ‘We Are The World,” on which Rogers originally appeared in 1985 alongside Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Willie Nelson and Cyndi Lauper, all of whom ruled the charts in the 1980s, as did Rogers.

He was assisted at times by Linda Davis on vocals. Davis is country singer who was part of the duo Skip and Linda and she is the mother of Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott.

Davis played the role of Dottie West, who recorded several songs and albums with Rogers. She also did a solo version of West’s hit “A Lesson in Leavin’.” She also sang the Sheena Easton part on the Bob Seger classic “We’ve Got Tonight.”

Rogers was his usual affable self during the New Orleans show, telling stories about his life and career and taking a few depreciating shots at his declining health, especially the knee replacement surgery that has made it hard for Rogers to walk.

He poked fun at his acting career as he showed clips from the films “Coward of The County” and “Six Pack” as he performed the title track to “Coward” and “Love Will Turn You Around” from “Six Pack.”

Rogers also performed “Love Lifted Me” as a clip of his performing it with the Muppets played in the background, which was both sweet and touching. When I was a child, Rogers performing on “The Muppet Show” was a huge moment in my life.

He said he wanted to to go out the way he came in, ending the show with “Blaze of Glory.”

The show was all a Rogers fan could have wanted, except for the omission of “Love of Or Something Like It.” But when one has as many hits as Rogers, there’s no way to play them all.

Kenny Rogers has been one of my favorite singers since I first heard “Daytime Friends” when I was a child. I can’t even begin to tell you how much “The Gambler” impacted my life.

I’ll miss seeing Kenny and I’m pretty sure the people of the Gulf Coast will miss his annual trips to one of the casino theaters in Biloxi. But at the same time, everyone deserves the opportunity to bow out gracefully and Rogers’ Gulf Coast exit was graceful and sentimental.