"The Gambler" is a song written by Don Schlitz, recorded by several artists, most famously by American country music singer Kenny Rogers.
Don Schlitz wrote this song in August, 1976 when he was 23 years old. It took two years of shopping the song around Nashville before Bobby Bare recorded it on his album "Bare" at the urging of Shel Silverstein. Bare's version did not catch on and was never released as a single, so Schlitz recorded it himself, but this version failed to chart higher than No. 65. However, other musicians took notice and recorded the song in 1978, including Johnny Cash, who put it on his album Gone Girl. However, it was Kenny Rogers who made the song a mainstream success. His version was a No. 1 Country hit and made its way to the Pop charts at a time when Country songs rarely crossed over. It was released in November 1978 as the title track from his album The Gambler which won him the Grammy award for best male country vocal performance in 1980. In 2006 Don Schlitz appeared in the Kenny Rogers career retrospective documentary "The Journey", where he praised both Rogers' and Butler's contributions to the song stating "they added several ideas that were not mine, including the new guitar intro".
It was one of five consecutive songs by Rogers to hit No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts. On the pop chart, the song made it No. 16 and No. 3 on the Easy Listening chart. It's become one of Rogers's most enduring hits and a signature song. As of November 13, 2013, the digital sales of the single stood at 798,000 copies. In 2018, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."
Last Updated: February 16, 2020