Photos: Bonnaroo 2012
Kenny Rogers performs at the Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival on June 10, 2012 in Manchester, Tennessee.

In the early months of 1977, Kenny Rogers' phone was ringing like crazy, thanks to the success of the classic "Lucille." In his new book, "Luck Or Something Like It," the singer tells of one who wasn't too enamored with the single - at least initially.

"That was my mother," he recalls, in a new interview with Billboard prior to a promotional appearance at a bookstore in Birmingham. "Her name was Lucille. She called me up on the phone one day, and said 'Kenneth Ray, what are you doing?' I knew when she said that I was in trouble. She thought I was putting her business out on the street. She said 'How dare me tell people she had four hungry children.' I told her 'First of all, you have eight kids. Secondly, I didn't write it, and thirdly, it's not about you. Then she tamed down a little bit," he recalls with a laugh.

The singer relived many memories while writing the book, and he admits that he had forgotten some of the high points. As he reasons, he was too busy working at the time. "I had a very fast life, and you realize that you don't take notes. All of a sudden, I age, and I had forgotten some of the great things that had happened to me. Patsi Bale Cox was supposed to be the co-writer on the book, and she had done about eight to ten of these. She developed lung cancer, and passed away from it. So, re-wrote every story, and put them in my own voice. So, that's where I got to relive everything. It was great fun for me."

He admits that his life and career - particularly after "Lucille" - was so fast-paced that he had to strike while the proverbial iron was hot. "Larry Butler and I were cranking out records at a fast pace. I would be at two studios at one time - doing vocals at one, and strings at the other. It was a great time. When you're as lucky and as successful as I was, you can't make mistakes, or eventually someone else comes up, and their luck gets better than yours."

Luck was on Rogers' side one night as he showed up early to a recording session where Dottie West was finishing up. "I had been sitting in the studio listening to her for forty-five minutes. I had never met her, and she hadn't met me. I was listening to her sing 'Every Time Two Fools Collide,' and she looked in through the glass and said 'Larry, is that Kenny Rogers sitting next to you?' He said sure, and she said 'Well, you tell him I want to sing a duet with him.' I said 'Dottie, I think I've heard this song enough that I could sing it with you.' So, we literally went in the studio, and we sang it in the same key, and did it that night. We did some wonderful stuff together."

Rogers and West, along with Oak Ridge Boys, partnered up for one of the first country stadium tours - one which lasted two years. "It was a great time," Rogers reflects. "We were one of the first shows to play a lot of the large venues, and worked in the round, which was unheard of at that point. I asked C.K. Spurlock, our booking agent, why we were doing this, and he said 'That way, you have four front row seats you can sell.' So, that's what we did, and you were actually closer to the people in the back from all four sides. It was an ingenious idea."

Rogers is currently in the studio with Dann Huff working on an album project for Warner Brothers. He's excited for fans to hear the new music, which he says is a little different - not that he's ever been afraid to experiment musically. "I went through a period where on every album, I tried to do something different. I worked with Lionel, Barry Gibb, David Foster, and did a wonderful album with Sir George Martin called 'The Heart Of The Matter.' I've always said I was a country singer with a lot of different influences. It was a chance to reach out and bring people who liked that kind of music into country music."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print