Why Kenny Rogers' First Marriage Was Doomed From The Start

For many, Kenny Rogers was best known as the big-bearded king of country music. He was behind chart-topping hits like "Islands in the Stream," "Coward of the Country," and "She Believes in Me." In his six-decade career, Rogers sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. His accomplishments were recognized with numerous accolades, including three Grammys and 19 nominations, 21 American Music Awards, and a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. "The Gambler" — one of his many hit songs, and his popular nickname — left a Texas-sized hole in the heart of Nashville when he passed away from natural causes in 2020 at age 81.

When it comes to Kenny Rogers, two things are true: He had a lot of hits, and he had a lot of wives. All in all, Rogers tied the knot five times before finding Wanda Miller, the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. In an interview with Reuters, he said of his many brides: "I don't blame them for the marriage falling apart. I blame myself and my chosen field of music. That's why I say that music is a mistress." Unfortunately, his first marriage seems to have been doomed from the start, and this is why.

Kenny Rogers first married at 20 years old

Kenny Rogers married his first wife, Janice Gordon, in 1958 at the age of 20. The two became husband and wife during the formative years of Rogers' career, nearly two decades before the release of his solo debut "Love Lifted Me." As per The Sun, in his 2012 memoir "Luck Or Something Like It," Roger's got candid about his first marriage by admitting the first time he made love to Gordon she got pregnant with their daughter Carole Rogers, which led him to marry her.

The "Sweet Music Man" singer may have been in the throes of youthful naivete, but in an interview with Fox News, he declared that his love was genuine. Unfortunately, Rogers never gained the approval of his wife's family. "I loved her. At 19 I thought, 'This is OK with me.'" Her parents thought I'd ruined her life and were determined to break me," Rogers explained. "The marriage didn't work and it's sad, because I think it could have."

Kenny Rogers' in-laws wrote him off

The parents of Janice Gordon, Kenny Rogers' first wife, were open about their apprehensions surrounding their daughter's relationship with the up-and-coming musician. "The truth is, Janice's parents never got used to the idea of their son-in-law being a musician, whether I was making money with a series of day jobs or not. Once they saw that I wasn't going to change my career ambitions away from music, they wanted little to do with the marriage. They wrote me off as a long-term breadwinner," he explained in his memoir, as reported by The Blast.

Rogers said that an argument — in addition to his in-law's lack of approval — ultimately led to the end of his marriage to Gordon: "The whole thing ground to a halt one day when our daughter, Carole, was about six months old. Janice and I were having what some might call an argument ... I am capable of getting pretty heated during an exchange of views, and Janice was the kind of person who hated confrontation." The country crooner says he left during the heat of the argument, and he returned to find Gordon packing her bags with the help of her mother, who told Rogers never to call her again.