He had said that he was dating around aimlessly before he met his wife Wanda.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 24, 2020. It has since been updated.
Kenny Rogers passed away at the age of 81 on March 20, 2020, of natural causes. He left behind his wife and five children. The legendary country music singer has lived most of his life under media glare and the spotlight but his marriage with Wanda Miller is a relatively less talked about subject. Even though his failed marriages and dates were a matter of public interest no one really noticed the undying romance between him and his 28 years younger wife.
Rogers, who is known to make people fall in love with the idea of love with his mesmerizing songs, was not very lucky in love until he came across a young restaurant hostess and couldn't take his eyes or heart off her. "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 told Reuters explaining that his previous marriages failed because of his commitment to music. "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."
And then saw Miller, then 21, at a restaurant where he was on a date with another girl who he wasn't quite attracted to. "[My date and I] had chosen a little Italian restaurant called Pricci and were in the middle of our 'getting to know each other' banter when the hostess walked by our table."
"I’m honestly not sure she even looked at me, but I saw her. I don’t know what and I don’t know why, but there was just something incredibly different about her from the minute I saw her. She had a smile, not a hostess smile, but something more genuine, and believe it or not, it rocked me to my core," he wrote in his book Luck or Something Like It. After a shaky start, Miller and Rogers, then 54, started dating but her parents were averse to the idea of them getting married because of the huge age gap between them. However, Miller had made up her mind and she eventually convinced her parents to approve their relationship.
The Gambler crooner and Millers dated for five years before exchanging vows in 1997. Their marriage thrived, and in 2004, Rogers and Miller became parents to twin boys named Justin and Jordan (he had three children from previous marriages). Fast forward, Miller told the Valdosta Daily Times in 2015, "The first 12 years we were together, I went everywhere with him. Then when the kids came along, you have to prioritize." Miler has been a hands-on mom and the one who kept the family together through thick and thin. "She is truly my soul mate. She knows me better than anyone has ever known me before," Rogers told Fox News. "She is the most phenomenal mother I have ever seen. The boys are so lucky to have her and so am I."
Just like Miller is a "phenomenal mother," Rogers prided himself on fatherhood. He told CMT in 2016, "I hope my fans understand that I'm a father first and a singer second." As a result, he wanted to spend as much time with his boys as he could, adding, "I know as well as anybody else how that time gets away from you. And I don't want to miss it. I just worry about how much longer I'm going to be here, and I want to have time to spend with them. It's pretty simple."
While the iconic country music singer may have experienced heartbreaks in the initial phase of his life, with Miller he lived a full life in the 23 years they were together. As an ode to their love and a lifelong relationship, he wrote in his book, “As wrong as it may have looked, I also knew this—my relationship with Wanda felt right to me.”