The Sad Story Behind Kenny Rogers' First Marriage

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By TheBlast Staff on March 24, 2020 at 5:22 PM EDT

Gettyimages | David Redfern

As you probably know by now, "The Gambler" singer Kenny Rogers died on March 20, 2020, of natural causes at the age of 81. Rogers was a career country music singer known around the world. Rogers was also a family man with children and a wife, Wanda Miller, who he was married to for over 20 years.

Where Rogers and Miller's love story had a tragic ending on March 20 with the passing of this country music icon, his first marriage to Janice Gordon ended sadly in a different way.

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Music was always a passion for Rogers, so it was only natural that he'd want to make a career out of it. Gordon's parents weren't happy with his choice to pursue music as a career, assuming he'd never make anything of himself. Rogers commented on this in his autobiography Luck or Something Like It, saying:

"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, and our marriage turned sour and lasted only until the next October of 1959."

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Gettyimages | Luciano Viti

The beginning of the end for Rogers and Gordon began with an argument that Rogers describes, saying:

"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, but it was actually more of a difference of opinion. I don’t even remember what it was about. I am capable of getting pretty heated during an exchange of views, and Janice was the kind of person who hated confrontation."

Rogers' marriage to Gordon ended with that argument. Rogers had left and by the time he'd returned, Janice was gone. Her mother had helped her pack her bags and move out while Rogers was out. This wouldn't be his last marriage to end.

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All in all, Rogers has been married five times. First to Janice Gordon which ended sadly. His second marriage was to Jean Rogers. His third to Margo Anderson. The fourth marriage was between Rogers and actress Marianne Gordon. And, the fifth was to his widow, Wanda Miller.

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Gettyimages | Silver Screen Collection

Rogers admitted during an interview with Reuters that his music career was a part of why each of his previous marriages failed. He says:

"When I became driven and selfish, I was so intent to follow my life that it cost me. I was gone so much from some of my marriages that there was a disconnect."

He also says:

"And this may seem like an absurd statement, but every woman I married, I really loved when I married her. And 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, because you can’t wait to get out there to it, and usually the mistress wins in a situation like that. That’s kind of what happened to me. Hey, you can’t say I’m afraid of commitment. I’ve been married five times."

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