Kenny Rogers scored a career signature song with "The Gambler," but he originally wanted his friend Willie Nelson to record the iconic song.

Fortunately for Rogers, Nelson just wasn't interested at the time, as he explains in a new interview.

“Through the years, him and I were big pals,” Nelson reminisces during a recent interview on the Today show about Rogers, who died on March 20. “In fact, he tried to get me to record 'The Gambler.'”


“We were somewhere, I don’t know, and he was like, ‘I think you should do it,’ and he played it for me and I said, ‘You know, I think it’s a great song, but I don’t think I’m going to do it,’ because at the time, I was doing a song every night called ‘Red Headed Stranger’ which has 100 verses in it,” Nelson tells NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager. “I just didn’t want to do another long song, so he said, ‘Okay, I will record it myself,’ so he did.”

In fact, Rogers took “The Gambler” straight to No. 1 following its release in 1978. It even won him a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, in 1979.

Granted, Nelson is doing mighty fine without that particular song in his repertoire. In fact, Nelson just released his 70th studio album, First Rose of Spring.

“I enjoy making records and being in the studio and playing and singing and yes, I still enjoy writing,” Nelson says.

See Pictures of Willie Nelson Through the Years

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