Kenny Rogers Estate Sues Producer Over Final Tour DVD

The estate of Kenny Rogers is suing one of the singer’s long-time business associates and producers for $290,000 in legal fees stemming from a fight over a CD and DVD release tied the country legend’s final tour.

Kenny Rogers announced his final Gambler’s Last Deal tour in 2015, with dates scheduled through the end of 2018. However on April 5th, 2018, Rogers announced he was cancelling the remaining dates of the tour, citing health concerns. Rogers died on March 20th, 2020 at the age of 81.

According to the Kenny Rogers estate, producer Kelly Junkermann was given permission to shoot footage of Kenny’s farewell tour, but only for personal use, not for commercial distribution. Nonetheless, Junkermann obtained a distribution deal for a CD/DVD release of the final tour, and set up a preliminary pre-order in late 2019 in the United States, with some copies of the package being sold overseas. Eventually the estate sued Junkermann to block him from distributing the release. The estate says the presentation is not up to the standards of Kenny Rogers and “would damage his brand.”

According to the Kenny Rogers estate, Junkermann made repeated attempts to obtain permission for the release, and was told in both writing and verbally, “no.” The estate was successful in blocking the release from Kelly Junkermann, but now they want to be reimbursed for the legal fees they incurred, and to make sure the footage is never seen publicly.

Kelly Junkermann had worked with Kenny Rogers for over 40 years, first being hired by The Gambler to help him with his tennis game. Soon Junkermann was helping to produce live shows and television specials for Rogers. Junkermann produced Kenny’s annual Christmas tours that were a tradition for 35 years. He also produced the TV special Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend in 1989, Kenny Rogers: Keep Christmas With You from 1993, Kenny Rogers: Going Home in 1995, Kenny Rogers: The Gift in 1996, Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years in 2011, and also worked as a producer on A&E Biography: Kenny Rogers, which aired earlier in 2020.

In 2016, Kenny Rogers spoke glowingly about Kelly Junkermann to a local newspaper in Green Bay, Wisconsin where Junkermann was from.

“He’s been with me for 40 years,” Rogers explained at the time. “Not only Kelly but his family. All of his brothers have been out and helped create the stuff for our Christmas tour. It’s an incredible family with great work ethics. Kelly is special in that respect in that he wants anything he does to be the best, and I will tell you that he has been responsible for some of the most creative things I’ve ever done … I don’t normally just accept things people do for me, but he did this so well I couldn’t do it any better, so I just leave it alone.”

The next question many fans have is if they will ever get to see footage from the final tour of Kenny Rogers. According to TMZ, one of the reasons for the new lawsuit is “the estate doesn’t want fans confusing Junkermann’s DVD with its own farewell tour project.” Kenny Rogers was still alive when the initial fight over the release occurred.

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