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Kenny Rogers Bio

Kenneth Donald "Kenny" Rogers (born August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas) is a prolific American country music singer, photographer, producer, songwriter, actor and businessman.

He has been very successful, charting more than 70 hit singles across various music genres and topping the country and pop album charts for more than 420 individual weeks in the United States alone. To his fans, he is extraordinarily popular; women in concert audiences bring him roses in unrelenting waves throughout a performance.

Both his albums ''The Gambler'' and ''Kenny'' are featured in the poll of "The 200 Most Influential Country Albums Ever".(More Info)He was voted the "Favorite Singer of All-Time", in a 1986 joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People. (More Info)
He has received hundreds of awards for both his music and charity work. These include AMAs, Grammy award|Grammys, ACMs and Country Music Association|CMAs, as well as a lifetime achievement award for a career spanning six decades in 2003.(More Info)
Most recently, Rogers hit with his new album release, ''Water & Bridges'', an across the board hit, that peaked at #5 in the Billboard Country Albums sales charts, also charting high in the Billboard 200. The first single from the album, "I Can't Unlove You," is also a hit. He is currently planning a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland, in a 2006 BBC Radio 2 interview he told DJ Steve Wright, his favorite hit of his was "The Gambler".


Early groups and releases

Rogers graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in Houston, where he had a son and named him David. His career began in the mid-1950s, when he recorded with a doo-wop group called The Scholars who had some success with a single called "Poor Little Doggie". Rogers was not the lead singer of the group and after two more singles they disbanded when their leader went solo.

Now on his own, Kenneth Rogers (as he was billed then) followed the break up with his own single, a minor solo hit called "That Crazy Feeling" (1958). After sales slowed down, Rogers joined a Jazz group called The Bobby Doyle Trio, who got a lot of work in clubs thanks to a reasonable fan following and also recorded for Columbia records. The group disbanded in 1965, and a 1966 jazzy rock single Rogers recorded for Mercury, called "Here's That Rainy Day" failed. In 1966 he joined the New Christy Minstrels.

Feeling that the Minstrels were not offering the success they wanted, Rogers left with fellow members Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Camacho. They formed The First Edition in 1967 (later renamed "Kenny Rogers and The First Edition"). They chalked up a string of hits on both the pop and country charts, including "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town", "Reuben James" and "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." In his First Edition days Rogers had long brown hair, an earring, and pink sunglasses. Known affectionately in retrospect as "Hippie Kenny", Rogers had a much smoother vocal style at the time. When the group split in 1976, Rogers launched his solo career. Rogers soon developed a more middle of the road, gravel-voiced style that sold to both pop and country audiences; to date, he has charted more than 60 top 40 hit singles (including upwards of 25 #1's) and no fewer than 50 of his albums have charted. His music has also been featured in top selling movie soundtracks, such as ''Convoy'' and ''Urban Cowboy''.

Solo Artist

After leaving The First Edition in 1976, after almost a decade with the group, Rogers signed a solo deal with United Artists. Although producer Larry Butler had no doubts about Kenny's talent and that he wanted to sign him, he was advised by several colleagues not to sign Rogers, as he was seen as a has-been. Nevertheless, Butler and Rogers began a partnership that would run for four consecutive years.

Rogers first outing for his new label was ''Love Lifted Me''. The album charted and two singles "Love Lifted Me" and "While The Feelings Good" were minor hits. The song "Runaway Girl" was featured in the motion picture "Trackdown".

Later in the year Rogers issued his second album, the self-titled ''Kenny Rogers'', whose first single "Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got)", was another solo hit. However, it took "Lucille" in 1977 to blow Rogers' post-First Edition career wide open, reaching Number One in no fewer than 12 countries, selling over five million copies world-wide and pushing the ''Kenny Rogers'' album to #1 in the Billboard Country Album Chart. More success was to follow, including the multi-million selling album ''The Gambler'' and another international Number 1 single, "Coward of the County", taken from the equally successful album, ''Kenny''. In 1980, the Rogers/Butler partnership came to an end. Butler would work with Kenny in the later years: in 1987 on the album ''I Prefer The Moonlight'' and again in 1993 on the album ''If Only My Heart Had A Voice''.

Later in 1980 came his partnership with Lionel Richie who wrote and produced Rogers' #1 hit "Lady". Richie went on to write and produce Rogers' 1981 album ''Share Your Love'', a chart topper and commercial favorite featuring hits such as "I Don't Need You" and "Through The Years".

He went on to work with the Bee Gees to record and produce his 1983 hit album ''Eyes That See in the Dark'', featuring the title track and yet another #1 hit "Islands in the Stream," a duet with country singer Dolly Parton. The Bee Gees had originally written the song for Diana Ross. The partnership with Bee Gees only lasted one album, which was not a surprise considering that Rogers' original intentions were to work with Barry Gibb in only one song but Barry insisted on them doing the entire album.

"Islands in the Stream", the first single to be released from ''Eyes That See in the Dark'' in the United States, quickly went to #1 in the Billboard Hot 100. It was the last country single to reach #1 on that chart until "Amazed" by Lonestar did so in 2000. However, RCA insisted on releasing the title track as the first UK single, and the song failed miserably to even make it to the top ten of the British charts. "Islands in the Stream" was issued as a follow up single in Britain and sold well, making #7. The album also did well there making #1 in the British Country music album chart and also made the pop charts, where it stayed for several months.

Kenny Rogers started working with producer David Foster in 1983 recording the smash Bob Seger cover "We've Got Tonight", a duet with Sheena Easton. Shortly afterwards came the album ''What About Me?'', a hit whose title track, a trio performance featuring Rogers, James Ingram and Kim Carnes, was also a hit. David Foster was to work again with Kenny Rogers in his 1985 album ''The Heart of the Matter'', although this time Foster was playing backing music rather than producing, a role given to George Martin. This album was another success, going to #1, with the title track making to the top ten category in the singles charts.

On January 28th, 1985, Rogers was one of the 45 artists who recorded the worldwide charity song "We Are the World to support hunger victims in Africa. On January 1987, Kenny Rogers co-hosted The American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Through 1988 to 1990, Kenny Rogers had reached the pinnacle of his career and new artists like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson were emerging with a frightening force. During that time, he released some albums but, while he still made the top 20, he was no longer the heavy hitter he had been previously.

Outside Music

Like Elvis Presley, he also had success as an actor. His 1982 movie ''Six Pack'', in which he played a race-car driver, took more than $20 million at the US box office, while made-for-TV movies such as ''The Gambler'', ''Christmas in America'', and ''Coward of the County'' (based on hit songs of his) topped ratings lists. As an entrepreneur, he collaborated with former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown, Jr. in 1991 to start up the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters. The chicken and ribs chain, which is similar to Boston Market, was famously featured in an episode of the NBC sitcom ''Seinfeld'' called "The Chicken Roaster," when Cosmo Kramer|Kramer tried to have a location of the restaurant put out of business due to its annoying red neon light. On the November 27, 1997, broadcast of ''Late Night with Conan O�Brien'', Rogers could not pick his chicken out in a taste test, claiming he preferred "greasy burgers."

Kenny Rogers and his restaurant were subjects of comedy from ''MADtv'', especially the impersonation done by Will Sasso; the skit of the faux-Rogers hosting ''Jackass'' became popular on the Internet. Sasso had him making noises such as "Ding Ding Ding Di da Ding Ding Ding" and getting sloppily drunk.

Kenny is also the inspiration behind one of the most popular pop culture websites on the Internet, (see link at bottom of page). The site features close to a thousand photos of men who look like the real Kenny Rogers, as well as tips on how to look like Kenny, places to spot Kenny look-alikes, and even a Kenny of the Month and sells t-shirts and buttons. Kenny himself has even gone on the record with his favorite "Kennys" on the site (Hot Tub Kenny being his favorite) and the site has been featured in Time, People, Esquire, The National Enquirer, and many, many more.

Rogers also works with property, doing construction work and then selling the property, as well as admitting he does a lot of DIY work at his own home. He is also a photographer, having had three books of his work published.

Worldwide success

His success is worldwide. For example, he has played many well-attended concerts in Europe and the Far East, where he has charted numerous singles and albums from the 1970s through to the present day. New Zealand was a big stronghold during his First Edition days, being the only country to give them the acclaim they truly deserved. His 1985 greatest-hits package, ''The Kenny Rogers Story'', reached #1 on the British country chart -- and four years later (in 1989), was still at #2. He also charted internationally during that time with a series of studio albums.

In 1983, Rogers signed to RCA for a record breaking US$20 million advance. Although, following the success of his label debut, the Bee Gees produced ''Eyes That See In The Dark'' album, Rogers wasn't doing as well as in previous years. Nonetheless, he was still among the worlds top stars. Between 1983 and 1990 alone he charted no less than 23 top 40 singles and 10 top 40 albums.

Although in the 1990s with the emergence of Garth Brooks, it was noted that this new talent was selling records like no one else had ever in country music, Rogers was nonetheless a dominant force in mainstream music and at his height, was charting singles (and albums) which were racing up the top 40 on the pop charts around the world, songs like "Lucille", "Coward of the County", "The Gambler" and "Lady" became favorites and have remained such, making Rogers one of the most popular entertainers on the touring circuit.

Success in the 1990s

In 1990s Rogers continued to chart with singles such as "Crazy In Love", "If You Want To Find Love" and "The Greatest". From 1991 to 1994, Rogers hosted ''The Real West'' on A&E;, and on The History Channel since 1995 (Reruns only on The History Channel.). In 1994, Rogers released his "dream" album titled ''Timepiece'' on Atlantic Records. It consisted of 30's and 40's jazz standards; it was the type of music he performed in his early days with The Bobby Doyle Three in Houston. In 1996 he released an album ''Vote For Love'' where the public requested their favorite love songs and Kenny performed the songs (several of his own hits were in there). The album was the first for the TV shopping channel QVC's record label, onQ Music. The album, sold exclusively by QVC, was a huge success and was later issued in stores under a variety of different titles. It reached #1 in the UK country charts under the title ''Love Songs'' (a title also used for various compilations) and also crossed over into the mainstream charts.

In 1999 Rogers scored with the single "The Greatest". A song about life from a childs point of view (looked at through a baseball game). The song reached the top 40 of Billboard's Country singles chart and was a Country Music Television Number One video. It was on the Rogers' album "She Rides Wild Horses" the following year (itself a top 10 success).

He has been married five times. His fourth wife was the actress Marianne Gordon Rogers. His current wife is the former Wanda Miller. He has a daughter and four sons, including twins born while Rogers was 65.

Beyond the 1990s

In the 21st century, Rogers was back at #1 for the first time in almost a decade with the single "Buy Me a Rose", making him the oldest artist in the history of country music to reach the chart summit. He also released the critically acclaimed album ''Back to the Well''.

Although Rogers didn't record new albums for a couple of years he continued to have success in many countries with more greatest hits packages, in 2004 ''42 Ultimate Hits'', which was the first hits collection to span his days with the First Edition to the present, reached Number 6 on the American country charts and went gold. In 2005 ''The Very Best of Kenny Rogers'', a double album, sold well in Europe. It was the first new solo Kenny Rogers hits album to reach the United Kingdom for over a decade, despite many compilations there that were not true hits packages.

Rogers also signed with Capitol Nashville Records and had more success with the TV advertised release ''21 Number Ones'' in January 2006. Although this CD did contain 21 chart-toppers as the title claims (recorded between 1976 and the present day), this was not a complete collection of Rogers' #1 singles, omitting such singles as "Crazy in Love" and "What About Me?"

Much of his success was with Capitol from 1976 to 1983 (called United Artists/Liberty at the time). It is very rare for an artist of Rogers' age to be signed to a major label. Capitol followed ''21 Number Ones'' with Rogers' new studio album, ''Water And Bridges'', in March 2006 on the Capitol Nashville label. The first single from the album was "I Can't Unlove You" which peaked at #17 on the country charts, after spending over 6 months on the hit list, more than 50 years after he formed his first group and 38 years after his first major hit as leader of The First Edition. "I Can't Unlove You" was followed up with the second single from the album, "The Last Ten Years (Superman)" in September, 2006.

Selected discography


=With The First Edition=

*''The First Edition'' (1967)
*''The First Edition's Second'' (1968)
*''The First Edition '69'' (1969)
*''Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town'' (1969)
*''Something's Burning'' (1970)
*''Tell It All Brother'' (1970)
*''Transition (1971)
*''The Ballad of Calico'' (1972)
*''Back Roads'' (1972)
*''Rollin'' (1973)
*''Monumental'' (1973)
*''I'm Not Making Music For Money'' (1974 NZ only release with exclusive tracks)


*''Love Lifted Me'' (United Artists 1976)
*''Kenny Rogers'' (United Artists 1976)
*''Daytime Friends'' (United Artists 1977)
*''Love Or Something Like It (United Artists 1978)
*''The Gambler'' (United Artists 1978)
*''Every Time Two Fools Collide'' (Kenny Rogers and Dottie West) (United Artists 1978)
*''Kenny'' (United Artists 1979)
*''Classics'' (Kenny Rogers and Dottie West) (United Artists 1979)
*''Gideon'' (United Artists 1980)
*''Christmas'' (Liberty 1981)
*''Share Your Love'' (Liberty 1981)
*''Love Will Turn You Around'' (Liberty 1982)
*''We've Got Tonight'' (Liberty 1983)
*''Eyes That See In The Dark'' (RCA 1983)
*''What About Me?'' (RCA 1984)
*''Once Upon a Christmas'' (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton) (RCA 1984)
*''The Heart Of The Matter'' (RCA 1985)
*''Love Is What We Make It'' (Liberty 1985) (contains previously unreleased recordings from Kenny's UA/Liberty years)
*''They Don't Make Them Like They Used To'' (RCA 1986)
*''I Prefer The Moonlight'' (RCA 1987)
*''Something Inside So Strong'' (Reprise 1989)
*''Christmas In America'' (Reprise 1989)
*''Love Is Strange'' (Reprise 1990)
*''Back Home Again'' (Reprise 1991)
*''If Only My Heart Had A Voice'' (Giant 1993)
*''Timepiece (Orchestral Sessions with David Foster)'' (Atlantic 1994)
*''Vote For Love'' (onQ 1996)
*''The Gift'' (Magnatone 1996)
*''Across My Heart'' (Magnatone 1997)
*''Christmas From The Heart'' (Dreamcatcher 1998)
*''She Rides Wild Horses'' (Dreamcatcher 1999)
*''There You Go Again'' (Dreamcatcher 2000)
*''Live By Request'' (Dreamcatcher 2001)
*''Back To The Well'' (Dreamcatcher 2003)
*''Water & Bridges'' (Capitol Nashville 2006)


* ''Greatest Hits'' (1971) (Kenny Rogers And The First Edition)
* ''Ten Years Of Gold'' (1977, features re-recordings of First Edition hits, plus early solo hits)
* ''The Kenny Rogers Singles Album'' (U.K release of ''Ten Years Of Gold'' with Bonus tracks, 1979)
* ''The Best Of Kenny Rogers'' (1979)
* ''Shine On'' (European Release, 1980)
* ''Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits'' (1980)
* ''Lady'' (U.K release of 1980's ''Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits'' album, 1981)
* ''Twenty Greatest Hits'' (1983)
* ''The Kenny Rogers Story - 20 Golden Greats'' (U.K release, 1985)
* ''60's Revisited'' (1980s, with the 1st edition)
* ''Greatest Hits'' (1988)
* ''20 Great Years'' (1990)
* ''The Very Best of Kenny Rogers'' (1990)
* ''The Best Of Kenny Rogers'' (1999)
* ''Kenny Rogers - Collection'' (2000)
* ''Through The Years - 20 Greatest Hits'' (2001)
* ''Legends - The Kenny Rogers and The First Edition Collection'' (2003)
* ''42 Ultimate Hits'' (2004)
* ''The Very Best Of Kenny Rogers'' (2 CD set, European release, 2005)
* ''21 Number One Hits'' (2006)
* ''Golden Legends - Kenny Rogers'' (2006)

Box Sets

* ''Greatest Hits and Finest Performances'' (5 L.P set) (1986)
* ''Through The Years: A Retrospective'' (4 CD) (1999)
* ''Triple Treasures'' (3 CD Box set featuring recordings made between 1967 and 1998) (2002)

Selected Singles

*"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"
*"But You Know I Love You"
*"Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town"
*"Reuben James"
*"Shine On Ruby Mountain"
*"Something's Burning"
*"Just Remember Your My Sunshine"
*"Today, I Started Loving You Again"
*"The Hoodooin' Of Miss Fanny Deberry"
*"Heed The Call"
*"Someone Who Cares"
*"Love Lifted Me"
*"While The Feelings Good"
*"Laura (What's He Got I Ain't Got)"
*"Puttin' in Overtime At Home"
*"Lucille" (featured in the motion picture Convoy)
*"Daytime Friends"
*"Sweet Music Man"
*"The Gambler"
*"She Believes In Me"
*"Sail Away"
*"Love Or Something Like It"
*"Coward Of The County"
*"You Decorated My Life"
*"Lady" (a Billboard Hot 100 #1)
*"The Long Arm Of The Law"
*"Blaze Of Glory"
*"Love The World Away" (from the motion picture Urban Cowboy)
*"Through The Years"
*"Share Your Love With Me"
*"Love Will Turn You Around"
*"Everytime Two Fools Collide" (with Dottie West)
*"We've Got Tonight" (with Sheena Easton)
*"I Want A Son"
*"Maybe You Should Know"
*"Islands In The Stream" (with Dolly Parton, a Billboard Hot 100 #1)
*"Love Will Turn You Around" (from the motion picture "Six Pack")
*"Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight" (with Dottie West)
*"Eyes That See In The Dark"
*"Twenty Years Ago"
*"Just The Thought Of Losing You"
*"Tomb Of The Unknown Love"
*"Don't Look In My Eyes"
*"Our Perfect Song"
*"The Stranger"
*"Two Hearts, One Love"
*"Make No Mistake (She's Mine)" (with Ronnie Milsap)
*"The Factory"
*"I Prefer The Moonlight"
*"After All This Time"
*"The Vows Go Unbroken (Always True To You)"
*"There Lies The Difference"
*"What I Did For Love"
*"Some Prisons Don't Have Walls"
*"If You Want To Find Love"
*"The Greatest"
*"Planet Texas"
*"Buy Me A Rose"
*"Slow Dance More"
*"There You Go Again"
*"Harder Cards"
*"My World Is Over"
*"I Can't Unlove You"
*"The Last Ten Years (Superman)"
*"We've Got It All" (this song was performed exclusively for the finale of the TV show sitcom, Home Improvement. The single was released by The Walt Disney Company for promotional purposes only.)


{{incomplete list}}
*2005: CMT - Favorite All-Time Country Duet ("''Islands in the Stream''" with Dolly Parton)
*2004: CMT - "Ruby Don't Take your Love To Town" - Greatest Cheating Song #6.
*2003: International Entertainment Buyers Association - Lifetime Achievement Award
*2003: CMT - Greatest Male Artist #19.
*2003: CMT - "The Gambler" Greatest Song #26.
*1999: BBC - Greatest Country Singer #2
*2000: Country Weekly Presents the TNN Music Awards - Career Achievement Award
*1988: Grammy - Best Country Vocal Performance, Duet
*1986 USA Today/ People - Favorite Singer Of All-Time
*1985: American Music Awards - Favorite Album
*1985: American Music Awards - Favorite Male Artist
*1983: Academy of Country Music - Single of the Year
*1983: Academy of Country Music - Top Vocal Duet
*1983: American Music Awards - Favorite Male Artist
*1983: American Music Awards - Favorite Single
*1983: ASCAP - Song of the Year
*1982: American Music Awards - Favorite Album
*1981: American Music Awards - Favorite Album
*1981: American Music Awards - Favorite Male Artist
*1981: American Music Awards - Favorite Single
*1980: American Music Awards - Favorite Album
*1980: American Music Awards - Favorite Male Artist
*1980: Music City News Country - Single of the Year
*1979: American Music Awards - Favorite Album
*1979: American Music Awards - Favorite Male Artist
*1979: CMA - Album of the Year
*1979: CMA - Male Vocalist of the Year
*1979: CMA - Vocal Duo of the Year
*1979: Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance ("The Gambler")
*1979: Music City News Country - Male Artist of the Year
*1979: Music City News Country - Single of the Year
*1978: Academy of Country Music - Entertainer of the Year
*1978: Academy of Country Music - Top Male Vocalist
*1978: American Music Awards - Favorite Single
*1978: CMA - Vocal Duo of the Year
*1977: Academy of Country Music - Album of the Year
*1977: Academy of Country Music - Single of the Year
*1977: Academy of Country Music - Song of the Year
*1977: Academy of Country Music - Top Male Vocalist
*1977: CMA - Single of the Year
*1977: Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance ("Lucille")


* Rogers' video for his 1999 hit, "The Greatest" features clips from the following major league players in chronological order: Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Mark McGwire (clip was from right before he hit his 61st home run in his magical 1998 season).
* He was the first country music artist to receive 20 RIAA gold albums.
* It is rare for an artist of Rogers' age to be signed to a major label{{fact}}; he is currently signed to Capitol Records.
* Cites Dottie West as one of the best duet partners he ever worked with.
* Rogers & Lionel Richie starred in a CMT "Crossroads" TV special in November 2005. Highlights of the show included the two singing each other�s hits as duets and an informative insight into their friendship both inside and outside of the music world.
* Rogers & The First Edition's Greatest Hits album, first issued in 1971, featured a recording of Mac Davis' ''I Believe In Music'', a previously unissued recording, thus making it one of the first greatest hits collections to contain new material, a standard practice in the music industry today.
* Performed on USA for Africa's fundraising single, We Are the World in 1985.
* Roger's ''The Gambler'' is the most successful television movie series of all-time, with four sequels.
* His album The Gambler topped the Country music charts in the United States of America for 23 weeks in 1978, while his next solo offering, Kenny, topped the charts for 25 weeks.
* Rogers sang the CBS promo song during its "We've Got The Touch" campaign in 1985.
* Rogers appeared on the television show American Idol on April 4th and 5th, 2006. While on the program, Kenny assisted the contestants in choosing country songs to perform.
* Rogers was often parodied on the Fox sketch comedy show MADtv by comedic actor Will Sasso. Rogers was portrayed as a giant overweight, foul-mouthed alcoholic with an exaggerated laugh.
* Rogers is a fan of the Detroit Tigers. Currently, pitcher Kenny "The Gambler" Rogers is a member of the Tigers.

Record Labels

The following is a list of record labels Rogers signed to.

*Cue (1950s, with the band The Scholars and also as a solo singer)
*Carlton (1958, solo deal)
*KenLee (one single, label owned by Rogers and his brother Lelan)
*Columbia (1960s, with jazz combo, The Bobby Doyle Three)
*Reprise (1967, with The First Edition, all material recorded during this time has since been acquired by Universal Music)
*Jolly Rogers (1973, with The First Edition, label was owned by Rogers)
*United Artists (1975, solo deal)
*Liberty (1980, United Artists merged into EMI/Capitol in 1980; some pressings of albums were issued on Capitol's imprint labels, EMI, EMI America, and EMI Manhattan.)
*RCA (1983, solo deal)
*Reprise (1989, solo deal)
*Giant (1993, one solo album)
*Atlantic (1994, one solo album)
*onQ Music (1996, one solo album; onQ Music was created by the QVC Network to release exclusive albums for sale only on QVC. The first onQ release was Rogers' Vote For Love, a two disc set that would later become available in standard retail stores.)
*Magnatone (1996, solo deal)
*Dreamcatcher (1998, solo deal; Dreamcatcher was owned and run by Rogers and Jim Mazza for the purpose of releasing Rogers albums and certain reissues of Rogers' catalog. Other artists such as Marshall Dyllon and Randy Dorman were released on Dreamcatcher Records, also. The label closed in 2004)
*Capitol Nashville (2004, solo deal)

See also

* Brady Hawkes

Copyright Citations

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