Luck or Something Like It: A Memoir

Luck or Something Like It: A Memoir

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by Kenny Rogers

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A remarkable story of a boy who couldn't stop singing, and a man who knew how to hold 'em

For more than half a century, Kenny Rogers has been recording some of the most revered and beloved music in America and around the world. In that time, he has become a living legend by combining everything from R&B to country and gospel to folk in his


A remarkable story of a boy who couldn't stop singing, and a man who knew how to hold 'em

For more than half a century, Kenny Rogers has been recording some of the most revered and beloved music in America and around the world. In that time, he has become a living legend by combining everything from R&B to country and gospel to folk in his unique voice to create a sound that's both wholly original and instantly recognizable.

Now, in his first-ever memoir, Kenny details his lifelong journey to becoming one of American music's elder statesmen—a rare talent who's created hit records for decades while staying true to his values as a performer and a person. Exploring the struggles of his long road, his story begins simply: growing up in Depression-era Texas, living in the projects, surviving in poverty, and listening to his mother, who always had just the right piece of wisdom.

Recounting his early years, first as a jazz bassist and later as a member of the pioneering folk group the New Christy Minstrels, Kenny charts how he came into his own as an artist with the First Edition, only to have the band's breakup in the 1970s raise questions about his musical future. Yet, as Kenny explains, it was precisely this soul-searching that led him to a new direction on his own in Nashville. Telling the stories that have become legends in a town that's seen many of them, he recalls the making of his career in country music and his most memorable songs, including "Lucille," "The Gambler," "Lady," and "Islands in the Stream." Along the way, he shares the friendships, both big and small, that have meant the most to him, describing the good times he's had with Dottie West, Lionel Richie, and, of course, Dolly Parton, and how through it all he continues to make music with the passion that has defined him from the start.

Staring across the decades, Kenny writes a story seemingly straight from one of his songs. The end result is a rollicking ride through fifty years of music history, which offers a heartwarming testament to a time when country music wasn't just a brand but a way of life.

Editorial Reviews

As a singer-songwriter, Kenny Rogers has won hundreds of awards and charted more than 120 hit singles, but beyond his busy marital life (five marriages) and his Kenny Rogers Roasters eateries, most of us little about this surprisingly reticent man. This memoir changes that. Luck or Something Like It reveals how the young Houston musician experimented with doo-wop, jazz, and mainstream pop before settling into the country genre for which he's been known. It also describes how his deep faith and the importance to his life of artists including Elvis Pressley, Dolly Parton, and Ray Charles. He also delineates his complicated relationship with the Nashville country music establishment, revealing how his evolving musical preferences sometimes made him an outsider among purists.

Library Journal
In his 52-year career, pop/country singer Rogers has recorded 65-plus albums, including one Diamond, 19 Platinums, and 31 Golds; he's sold more than 120 million records worldwide and has nearly 250,000 fans on Facebook. His memoir will obviously touch on a lot of music making, as well as music makers, from Ray Charles to Dolly Parton. And he'll be promoting on his annual Christmas & Hits Tour.
Publishers Weekly
Kenny Rogers waited until he was 74 years old to publish this memoir, probably because his life—while certainly full—lacks the over-the-top shenanigans of other mainstream celebrities. A nondrinker and nonsmoker, Rogers only experimented with drugs early in his career; women have been his biggest vice, and he writes candidly here about his five marriages and an early-'90s phone-sex scandal that seems almost quaint today. In the same relaxed, simple voice that delivered the massive crossover hits "The Gambler," "She Believes in Me" and "Lady," Rogers chronicles his childhood in the housing projects of Houston, where his sister Geraldine instilled in him a love of singing harmony that would later help him sell more than 125 million albums; his transition from bass player and singer in the First Edition to solo superstar status near the age of 40;and his various side projects, including USA for Africa, Kenny Rogers Roasters, tennis, television, photography and even theater. Along the way, Rogers takes swipes at Tom Jones, Lorne Greene, the Captain & Tennille and at least one of his ex-wives, while also sharing the catalysts for some of his most abiding hits. Ripe with nostalgia, this book should please Rogers's fans while encouraging newcomers to explore his diverse and deep body of work. (Oct.)
Entertainment Weekly
“Rogers is an exquisite storyteller, able to get across a range of ideas and emotions in songs like ‘Lucille’ and ‘The Gambler.’ That breezy, conversational tone comes across on the page.”
Toronto Star
“Engagingly honest.”
“In his aw-shucks, sit-down-and-listen-for-a-spell memoir.... he reminisces in never-before-told stories…Rogers gracefully recalls the ups and downs on his wild ride to fame.”
Kirkus Reviews
Unassuming memoir by one-time chartbuster Rogers, he of "The Gambler" fame. The author's approach to memoir writing is consonant with his approach to song crafting and chicken making: crowd-pleasing, unchallenging and resolutely middle-of-the-road. Some might call it bland, but it's calculated not to offend. A child of hardscrabble East Texas, Rogers doesn't dig too deeply to find the well of the past; "I can't say for sure," he writes, "but I just took it for granted that I was part Irish, part Indian, and that was that." A talent for singing and playing guitar brought him early into professional music, and he got his first hit with a psychedelic-lite version of Mickey Newbury's "Just Dropped In," refreshed on the hip-o-meter when given a standout moment in The Big Lebowski. Though shot through with show-business anecdotes, Rogers' narrative doesn't dish much dirt; when he tells a joke, refreshingly, it's most often about himself, as when he mangled an expensive amplifier early on in his career: "We didn't have the heart to confess how truly stupid Mickey [Jones] and I were, so we did the next most honorable thing. We blamed the airlines." Neither does Rogers dig too hard into the touchier parts of his past, mentioning numerous ex-wives only in passing. The refrain, "What in the world were you thinking, Kenneth Ray?" runs throughout, but rarely does he stop to really turn the question over--though he does let us know why he never cozied up to drugs, for which, and for all the general mayhem that Rogers doesn't chronicle, please consult Keith Richards' Life. "The audience expects to be entertained 100 percent for their ticket dollar," Rogers writes. This doesn't really hit that 100 percent mark, but it's a light and pleasant read all the same.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Kenny Rogers is one of the bestselling artists of all time with more than 120 million albums sold worldwide. He has endeared himself to music lovers around the world with hit songs like "Lady," "The Gambler," "Islands in the Stream," and "Love or Something Like It." He is a three-time Grammy Award winner, and has won eighteen American Music Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and five Country Music Association Awards.

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Luck or Something Like It 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
RS64 More than 1 year ago
In this book Kenny Rogers does not let himself off the hook for anything he has done in his life. He gives credit to the people that deserve it and does not hog the spotlight for himself. I truly enjoyed this book, it made go back and listen to old CDs and albums from decades ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easily the best book I've read recently. Candid, well written and honest. I'm not a rabid fan of Rogers, so whether or not you are, it's a great read.
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