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Dolly records ‘Islands in the Stream’ duet with Kenny Rogers in 1983
The two artists had previously recorded each other’s songs but only met on a few occasions. “Islands in the Stream” marked their first duet recording. However, Rogers originally intended to perform the song as a solo.
Dolly happened to be in the same studio when Kenny and his team were struggling to make the song work. They approached her about turning the song into a duet. Rogers said,
“Once she came in [the studio], that song was never the same. She lit it up and we became good friends from that point on.”
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (the Bee Gees) wrote the song originally for Marvin Gaye. It was based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway of the same name and was originally intended to be an R&B song. Barry and Maurice Gibb also performed as background singers and musicians on the Dolly and Kenny recording.
The song reached No. 1 on the pop, country and adult contemporary charts. It first appeared on Rogers’ “Eyes that See in the Dark” album, released on RCA records in August 1983. Dolly and Kenny received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.