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Next month will be the third anniversary of the country music legend Kenny Rogers, who died of natural causes on March 20, 2020 at the age of 81. His good friend and fellow country music icon Dolly Parton is now speaking out to pay tribute to him, admitting that she still thinks of him often.

‘I Miss Him So Much’

“I miss him so much,” Parton, 77, told People Magazine. “I’ve lost so many wonderful people in my life in the last few years. But Kenny — he was very, very dear and special and I never get tired of hearing us sing, all the years that we were on stage together.”

Parton went on to say that some of her fondest memories performing with Rogers stem from their hit song “Islands In The Stream,” which made it to number 1 on the pop charts back in 1983.

“You know how sometimes you get tired of singing something because it just becomes routine?” she asked with a laugh about the song. “But I would always lighten up when that particular song was due in the setlist. It just always made everybody feel so good in the audience and the audience always loved singing it. I never got tired of Kenny’s voice.”

Related: Dolly Parton And Kenny Rogers Describe The ‘Tension’ Between Them And Why They ‘Never Went There’

‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’

Parton and Rogers recorded together for the final time in 2013 with their song “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” which was about the decades of friendship that they shared. Check out that song for yourself in the video below. 

Rogers was forced to retire from performing just five years later for heath reasons.

“[We recorded that song] just in time too, honestly,” Parton said. “And now I can’t hardly sing it.”

As Parton approaches her 80s, she feels that the message of that song rings more true than ever before. 

“You can make new friends that feel like old friends, but there’s just something about the people that have spent years together,” Parton explained. “You have a history, and you learn about each other, inside and out. I knew Kenny very well. We’re very similar. We’re like brother and sister really.”

Parton took a moment to compose herself before quietly saying, “He’s up there singing. I know that.”

Related: Dolly Parton Convinced Kenny Rogers Not To Pass On One Of His Most Iconic Songs

Parton’s Emotional Reaction To Rogers’ Death

Parton took to social media immediately after Rogers’ death to post an emotional video honoring him. 

“You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone,” she captioned the video. “I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend.”

In the video, Parton said that she “couldn’t believe it” when she woke up that morning and learned the Rogers had passed away.

“And I know that we all know that Kenny’s in a better place than we are today but I’m for sure he’s going to be talking to God some time today if he’s ain’t already, and he’s going to be asking him to spread some light onto this darkness going on here,” she said. “But I loved Kenny with all my heart and my heart’s broken and a big ole chunk of it has gone with him today.”

Parton concluded by saying, “And I think that I can speak to all his family, his friends and fans when I say that I will always love you.”

The friendship that Rogers and Parton shared truly was a beautiful one, and it’s clear that she’s still not over his death all these years later. Please join us in saying a prayer for Parton and the rest of Rogers’ family and friends as they head into this difficult period of the anniversary of his passing. 

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