Veteran singers and songwriters Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare and "Cowboy" Jack Clement will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, organizers said on Wednesday, achieving one of the highest honors in the music industry.
Rogers, 74, the husky-voiced three-time Grammy winner best known for songs like The Gambler" and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town," will be inducted in the "Modern Era" category, the Country Music Association announced.
"Everything pales in comparison to this," Rogers said, tearing up because the honor came in his lifetime.
"My older sons thought I was already in here. Maybe now I can really impress them," he told Reuters, referring to his 8-year-old twin sons from his fifth marriage.
Rogers, a country-pop crossover artist who scored a big hit with the 1983 duet "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton, has charted hit singles in each of the past six decades, and is due to play at the Glastonbury pop music festival in England in June.
Wednesday's three new inductees will bring membership of the Country Music Hall of Fame to 121 since its creation in 1961, including the likes of Parton, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson.
Bare, 78, was born in Ohio and moved to California, where he had a hit with "The All American Boy" in the pop field in 1959. He later moved to Nashville, was signed to a record deal by guitar player Chet Atkins, and went on to have hits with "Detroit City," and "500 Miles Away From Home."
"This is real huge," Bare said on Wednesday. "This is the culmination of a 19-year-old boy's dream who left Ohio to be a singer."
Clements, 82, is a producer and songwriter from Texas who moved to Memphis just as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, whom he discovered, were breaking into the music scene in the mid-1950s.
He persuaded George Jones to record one of his early hits, "She Thinks I Still Care," and also persuaded a record label to sign Charley Pride, one of the few African-American singers to make it big in the country music scene.
Clement, who also produced tracks in Memphis for U2's "Rattle and Hum" album, will be inducted as a non-performer in the ceremony to be held later this year at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.