Islands in the Stream
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
Writer(s): Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (see lyrics here)
First Charted: August 27, 1983
Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 2 RR, 14 AC, 12 CW, 7 UK, 12 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.7 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 90.82 video, 204.05 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The Bee Gees were one of the most successful acts of the 1970s, but by 1983 they were a relic of the then-passe disco era. Had anyone bet the trio would ever again top the U.S. pop charts – much less the country charts – any sensible person would have taken that bet. Those people would have lost – kind of.
Even at their peak, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb wrote for others, including #1 songs for Yvonne Elliman, Samantha Sang, Frankie Valli, and their brother Andy. In the 1980s, they wrote Barbra Streisand’s #1 pop hit “Woman in Love” (1980) and the #1 adult contemporary hit “Heartbreaker” for Dionnne Warwick (1982). Their most successful non-Bee Gees song, however, was “Islands in the Stream,” a #1 pop, country, and adult contemporary hit for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. The tune, whose title came from a 1970 Ernest Hemingway story, would be the last country song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 17 years, when Lonestar hit #1 with “Amazed.” SF
Rogers had been interested in working with Barry Gibb a couple of years earlier. He envisioned recording a duets album singing with Gibb, Parton, Willie Nelson, and others. While that project didn’t work out, Rogers still kept Gibb in mind and when he was looking for a new collaborator, he tapped him as the producer for his first album on the RCA label. BR
The resulting Eyes That See in the Dark album was introduced with the single “Islands in the Stream,” a song originally written in an R&B style for Marvin Gaye. WK It was the first time Rogers and Parton worked together, but both had plenty of success on their own. Both artists had topped the country charts multiple times and each had hit #1 on the pop charts in 1980 – Rogers with “Lady” and Parton with “9 to 5.” It ended up the only song in 1983 to be certified platinum. BR It also won the American Music Award for Best Country Single and the Academy of Country Music’s Single of the Year and Vocal Duet of the Year. In 2005, it topped CMT’s poll of the best country duets of all time. WK
First posted 3/21/2020; last updated 11/1/2021.