When I think of famous facial hair, a few names immediately come to mind. Santa Claus, obviously. Abraham Lincoln, duh. And, likely as a testament to my southern upbringing, the one and only Kenny Rogers, whose luscious beard I imagine I could’ve snuggled up in to find shelter from the world for weeks.
As fate would have it I, unfortunately, will never know what solace I might have found in Rogers’ facial follicles, as the singer passed away on Friday evening of natural causes.
“Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world,” Rogers’ publicist Keith Hagan said in a statement.
And of course, his publicist isn’t the only person remembering him in his passing. Dolly Parton, with whom Rogers was a frequent duet partner, took to Twitter to share her sentiments.
Talking to The Guardian in 2013, Rogers reflected on what brought him to music in the first place, and his particular brand as an entertainer, dropping some pearls of wisdom about what surely allowed him to make such an indelible mark on the country music scene.
I went to see Ray Charles when I was about 12 years old and I think that’s what made me want to get into the business. Everybody laughed at everything he said. They clapped for every song. It’s never been important to me for people to leave my shows and say, “He’s the best singer I’ve ever heard”. But it’s important that everyone leaves saying “I enjoyed that”.
Certainly, that is what people will be left saying of Rogers’s time as an entertainer and of his music. I enjoyed that.
His time as a political commentator, however, is likely to leave people with a bit of a different taste in their mouths. A reminder that even our bearded heroes are complicated, and it’s worth it to remember them in their entirety, so as not to rewrite history after they’re gone.