|Photo: Lacy Atkins, The Tennessean|
“How about me and you go out like rock stars?” Parton asked Rogers. The longtime friends held their microphones out in front of them, dropped them on stage and walked off arm-in-arm.
The Tennessean reports it was a definite ending to a night that was filled with sentimental moments and music’s biggest stars performing Rogers’ most famous songs. The concert was billed as the last time Parton and Rogers would perform their seminal duet “Islands in the Stream.” However, before the show, Parton maintained she wasn’t going to let Rogers retire completely.
“I’m just going to let him retire from the public and then we might even write some songs together, who knows?” Parton said.
“Oh man,” Rogers replied excitedly. “I didn’t think of that.”
Later, she brought audience members to tears when she spoke of her adoration for Rogers.
“I know I’m artificial, but I like to think my heart is real,” Parton told Rogers before she serenaded him with “I Will Always Love You." "I have a spot (in my heart) for you that’s never ever going to be touched by anybody else."
Rogers, who struggles to stand for more than a few minutes at a time, soaked in Parton’s performance from a stool beside her.
He took a moment to thank the audience and the night’s performers. Parton asked him if he was ready for their final “Islands in the Stream,” then quoted the song saying there is no one with whom she’d rather sail away.
Parton was one of more than 20 artists who took the stage to honor Rogers, who in 2015 revealed plans to retire after a final tour that ends later this year. Rogers, 79, and his wife Wanda watched from chairs on the side of the stage as performers ranging from Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town to Lionel Richie, The Flaming Lips and Elle King honored Rogers.