It was in 1967, a half-century ago, that most of us first heard Kenny Rogers’ voice, when the psychedelic pop song “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” became a huge hit for his band, The First Edition.
The First Edition gradually moved toward country music, and when Rogers went solo in 1976, he became one of the biggest stars in the history of country music, with such hits as “The Gambler,” “Coward of the County” and “Lady.” He even crossed over into film stardom, especially with a series of movies based on “The Gambler.”
He’s now eight months into his farewell tour, which he’s calling “The Gambler’s Last Deal.” The tour stops at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Friday.
Even after all these decades, Rogers is still popular with country and pop music fans. It’s been just a few years since his last studio country album, “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” and that one hit No. 9 on the country chart. His 2015 Christmas album, “Once Again It’s Christmas” reached No. 3 on the holiday chart. And his Van Wezel show is nearly sold out.
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Opening the show is Linda Davis, a Grammy Award-winning country singer whose biggest hit has been “Does He Love You,” her 1993 duet with Reba McEntire.