Although I never actually bought one of his records, I’ve always been a big admirer of Kenny Rogers, who has died aged 81. Although he was a songwriter, his gift was in interpreting the songs of others. He has left a golden legacy of beautiful music.

I first became aware of Rogers in the late 1960s with his hit record Ruby, don’t take your love to town, recorded by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. I was too young to fully understand the meaning of the lyrics, which were all about a man who was paralysed in “that crazy Asian war”, meaning Vietnam, but it resonated with me. As I grew older, it all became clear. It was a protest song. For an artist making his way through the music business, it was a particularly brave thing to do.

He did other songs, too. If he didn’t write them, which he mostly didn’t, then he had impeccable taste and a genius for interpretation. And his joyous duet with Dolly Parton on the Bee Gees penned Islands in the Stream is a classic of its genre.

Derided by some for being too schmaltzy, I thought he was great and I’d rather have liked to have seen him in concert. For me, you can’t have enough schmalz. RIP, Kenny.