‘Lucille’: Kenny Rogers Picks A Fine Time To Record A Country Smash

Kenny’s UK No.1 arrived as he was in the early stages of redirecting his career into the country arena.

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Kenny Rogers 'Lucille' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Kenny Rogers 'Lucille' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

Today’s trivia question: which girl’s name lent itself to two completely different songs, one that topped the US R&B chart in 1957 and another that was a No.1 country hit and in the UK, 20 years later? Her name was “Lucille,” and after Little Richard’s rock’n’roll smash of the 50s, Kenny Rogers picked a fine time to record his song of that name on August 5, 1976.

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The country “Lucille” was written by two accomplished composers in the genre, Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum, both of whom have many other notable credits to their name. Bowling’s include Billie Jo Spears’ country chart-topper and international hit of 1975, “Blanket On The Ground,” and the later Rogers hit “Coward Of The County.” Bynum also wrote Jim Reeves’ posthumous 1970 country top tenner “Nobody’s Fool,” Patty Loveless’ 1990 No.1 in that format, “Chains,” and many others. He died in June 2022 at the age of 87.

At the time their “Lucille” crossed his path, Rogers was in the early stages of reshaping a career that had waned after his great success with the First Edition in the late 1960s. He had had three country chart appearances in 1975 and 1976 including the Top 20 entries “Love Lifted Me” and “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got?),” the second a cover of Leon Ashley’s 1967 No.1. But this traditionally-flavored story song blew his solo career wide open.

A good afternoon’s work

On August 5, 1976, Rogers went into American Studio in Nashville and recorded “Lucille” in an afternoon. It proved to be time very well spent. The following January, the song was released as the follow-up to that “Laura” single, from his self-titled album of 1977. It entered the country charts at the end of that month, and by early April, it was starting a two-week run at the summit.

Listen to the All Time Greatest Country Hits playlist.

By then, the single was breaking beyond its country boundaries, entering the Hot 100 in late March and climbing to No.5. In late April, “Lucille” began a UK run that took it to No.1 there in mid-June, as it hit the Top 10 everywhere from Australia to Switzerland. Rogers was well on his way to becoming one of country’s new superstars.

Buy or stream “Lucille” on Lucille: The Collection.


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