Dolly Parton honors late musician Kenny Rogers in emotional video tribute: 'I will always love you'

Country music star Dolly Parton honored fellow musician Kenny Rogers, who died at age 81, with a video tribute. (Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Dolly Parton is honoring her friend and country music singer Kenny Rogers, who passed away at age 81 on Friday evening.

On Friday, publicist Keith Hagan sent Yahoo Entertainment a statement sharing that Rogers “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.” During his career, Rogers, a three-time Grammy award winner, recorded 65 albums, sold 165 million records and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

The news was also shared on the Twitter page of Rogers.

On Saturday morning, Parton, 74, tweeted, “You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”

Related: Country Music Legend Kenny Rogers Dies at Age 81

In a video tribute shared on Twitter and Instagram, Parton shared her sadness. “Well, I couldn’t believe it this morning when I got up and turned on the TV, checking to see what the coronavirus was doing and they told me that my friend and singing partner Kenny Rogers had passed away,” said Parton, whose 1983 duet with Rogers, “Islands in the Stream,” once topped the charts. The duo also recorded a holiday album together titled “Once Upon a Christmas.”

“And I know that we all know that Kenny’s in a better place than we are today but I’m for sure he’s going to be talking to God some time today if he’s ain’t already, and he’s going to be asking him to spread some light onto this darkness going on here,” she said. “But I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart’s broken and a big ole chunk of it has gone with him today.”

Parton, a 9-time Grammy Award winner, added, “And I think that I can speak to all his family, his friends and fans when I say that I will always love you.” The line referred to Parton’s wildly-popular hit song “I Will Always Love You” written in the 1970s.

Holding up a framed photo of the pair, the singer said in the video, “...I know you’re [as] sad as I am — god bless you Kenny, fly high straight to the arms of god. And to the rest of you, keep the faith.”

On Instagram, celebrities sent Parton their condolences.

Andy Cohen, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus wrote, “Love you Dolly. And you and Kenny together were pure magic.” Fellow country star Reba McEntire wrote, “Dolly he sure loved you. What a character. There never has been and never will be another one like him. Love you.” Gwen Stefani chimed in with, “We love u dolly.”

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers pictured in 1990. (Photo: Beth Gwinn/Redferns)

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