Garth Brooks has joined the country A-listers offering up tributes to Kenny Rogers, revealing the late singer provided the model of how a superstar should act.
Brooks, who inducted the Coward of the County singer into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, opened for the music icon on tour in 1989, and the two singers became firm friends over the years.
Recalling their early days together on the road, Brooks tells Rolling Stone, "Kenny Rogers... became one of my heroes. Just watching how he treated his band, his guys, everybody, they’d all been with him for 100 years. It was like, 'This is how you do it'.
"There was no way you could be around him and not learn something. He was one of the most successful artists on the planet. If you want to do record sales, look at The Gambler and go, 'Oh, OK, you can sell that many?' Because I think that sold something stupid like 13 or 14 million. It sure showed all of us that country artists can do this as well.
"Then when it came time for entertaining, he was amazing. He has his (stage) in the round. He had a microphone with a cord on it because that’s what he felt comfortable with. The cord went to this wireless unit that went around the stage with him and he’d use it as a prop. If he would forget a word, he would look at the cord and push it around like his mic went out. He used it like a musician would an instrument and so you watched him and you watched him closely.
"I can’t think of anybody who taught me that much about entertaining other than Reba McEntire. Those two people were the ultimate entertainers and you learned every day from them."
Garth recalls that away from the spotlight, Kenny was "always with his band and crew", adding, "They’d play basketball. They’d do everything. That strengthening, that treating it like a sports team and having team dinners and stuff was great. We have at least one, maybe two guys, off that tour with us because they were such high quality people... I just enjoyed how honest he was. He wasn’t a fake person."
Brooks reveals his old pal also gave him the best advice, urging him to enjoy himself onstage.
"No matter what he was doing, he was the ultimate professional and what he will be remembered for is the same way that I want to be remembered, if that’s even possible, because he was Springsteen. He was Neil Diamond. He was entertainment," Garth beams. "I was lucky, lucky, lucky just to get to be a page in that book."
Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Don Henley have also saluted Kenny, who passed away on Friday (20Mar20), aged 81.
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