Country music veteran Kenny Rogers is marking 50 years in the music business with a star-studded TV special.

"Pretty courageous, isn't it?" Rogers, 71, said in a phone interview, laughing.

"The whole idea is to get together with some friends of mine," he added. "I really don't want it to be a tribute. That's not what my deal is. It's kind of a celebration."

Friends including Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Lionel Richie and Wynonna Judd are already signed on to take part in "Kenny Rogers - The First 50 Years," which will tape on April 10 at the MGM Grand At Foxwoods in Connecticut.

The special will take viewers through the six decades of Rogers' hits, including "The Gambler," "Lucille," "Lady" and the Dolly Parton duet "Islands In The Stream." Entertainers who have known Rogers throughout the years will host segments of the show. Rogers will also perform, and he hopes that producers build in some unscripted time.

"I'm at my best when they turn me loose and just let me do something," he said.

There will undoubtedly be pictures and videos spanning six decades as well. Rogers is ready to embrace his fashion history. He started out in a jazz band wearing three-piece suits, but then changed it up when he joined The First Edition in 1967.

"I had never had a beard, and I parted my hair on the side like everybody else did," he said. "Then when I got in The First Edition, I was the oldest one, and they were saying, 'You may be too old for this group,' and I said, "Whoa, whoa, hold on. Give me a chance here.' So I went back and parted my hair in the middle, which was a little more contemporary. I put an earring in my ear, and then I grew a beard, and I wore those brown, rose-colored glasses to kind of give me an identification for that era."

While he has adapted to changing fashions, Rogers said the secret to long-term success is to be genuine.

"Everybody is three people. We're who we think we are, we're who the audience thinks we are, and we're who we really are, and the closer those three people are together, the longer your career can last," he said. "You can be a jerk, if you're a jerk all the time. But I think you have to be what you represent. The audience doesn't like to be fooled."

As for his next 50 years, Rogers is clear about his goals.

"Musically, I think I'm capable of making hit songs. Will they get played? Radio has said to me four or five times since my big success, 'Do a great song, and we'll play it.' They did it with 'The Greatest.' The did it with 'Buy Me a Rose.' They did it with 'I Can't Unlove You.' So I think I just have to find that song they can't say 'no' to, and I will constantly be trying to do that."

The network airing "Kenny Rogers - The First 50 Years" will be announced later. The special will also be syndicated internationally.

Rogers has sold over 105 million albums, earned dozens of awards, including three Grammys, and is ranked 8 on the R.I.A.A.'s list of top selling male artists of all time. His television movie, "The Gambler," is one of the highest rated TV movies of all time.