JEDDAH: Fans of country music in Saudi Arabia were in mourning on Saturday after the death of Grammy award-winning legend Kenny Rogers.
The American singer, who was 81, is remembered in the Kingdom for playing a series of concerts at Saudi Aramco compounds in the summer of 1977.
Rogers performed for oil company staff and their families at Ras Tanura on June 30, Abqaiq on July 6 and Dhahran on July 7, just as his career was beginning to take off with his break-out single Lucille.
Donna Grothus-Collington, an American teacher in Ras Tanura, told the aramcoexpat website: “We loved having Kenny at our school gym and how excited everyone was. What grand memories, what golden years.”
Colleen Wilson, who lived in Abqaiq, wrote about the concert in her diary. She remembered tickets cost SR10, and the show was a 500-person sellout.
“He had a beard, a moustache that grew down into his beard, and long, straggly hair, but we thought he was the most handsome thing we had ever seen,” she said.
“He sang ‘Lucille’ of course, and we sang along with every word, as we had memorized it. He also sang ‘Rollin’On The River” from his TV show, and a lot of other songs we weren’t so familiar with. It was great.
“He did two shows that night, and we danced in between, so it was a lot of fun, and one of the highlights of that period of our life in Saudi Arabia.”
Rogers began a farewell tour in 2016 but in April 2018 he canceled the last few shows because of “health challenges.”
He “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” the family said.