Hello everyone! we have an intriguing story from the world of country music that could have changed the course of a classic hit.

Willie Nelson, the iconic country star, recently revealed that he once turned down the opportunity to record what would become Kenny Rogers’ #1 hit, ‘The Gambler.’ This fascinating tidbit was brought to light by Country Music Nation, reminding us of what could have been.

‘The Gambler,’ written by American songwriter Don Schlitz in 1976, had quite a journey before Kenny Rogers made it famous. Schlitz shopped the song around for two years. It was first recorded by Bobby Bare and then by Johnny Cash, who included it on his album ‘Gone Girl.’ However, it was Rogers’ version, released in November 1978, that turned ‘The Gambler’ into a massive crossover success. The song not only topped the Country Chart but also made a rare crossover to the Pop Chart in 1978. Rogers’ rendition earned him the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1980.

The Gambler: Willie Nelson's Near Hit

In a 2020 interview with TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager, shortly after Rogers’ passing, Nelson shared that Rogers had offered him the song before recording it himself. Nelson explained, ‘He tried to get me to record The Gambler. He said, “I got this song here; I think you should do it.” And he played it for me, and I said, “It’s a great song, but I don’t think I’ll do it…”‘

Nelson cited his nightly performances of ‘The Red Headed Stranger,’ a lengthy song with many verses, as the reason for turning down ‘The Gambler.’ He explained, ‘I just don’t want to do another long song, and I can’t quit doing Red Headed Stranger. So, he said, “Okay, I’ll record it myself.” And so, he did, and there it is.’

When asked if he regretted not recording ‘The Gambler,’ Nelson responded, ‘No, that was Kenny’s song all the way.’

This story is worth revisiting, especially since Rolling Stone recently ranked ‘The Gambler’ as the 21st-best country song in its list of the 200 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.

In June of last year, a posthumous album curated and executive produced by Wanda Rogers, titled ‘Life Is Like A Song,’ was released to honor Kenny Rogers’ legacy. This album is notable as Rogers’ first non-holiday studio album in a decade and his only non-compilation album to be released on vinyl since 1991.

Kenny Rogers passed away in March 2020 at the age of 81, leaving behind a remarkable legacy in the world of music.