Since their debut release “Brand New Man” in 1991, Brooks and Dunn have included “the adventures of Howdy and Slim” – the duo’s cowboy alter-egos – in the liner notes of their CDs, with the pair often riding off into the sunset. In 2010, after 20 years at the top of the country music charts, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn will take on their “Last Rodeo Tour,” and head off into the sunset themselves.
Leon Eric “Kix” Brooks III was born in Louisiana and, after time in Alaska and Maine, moved to Nashville in 1979, becoming a successful songwriter. Ronnie Gene Dunn was born in Texas, and grew up wanting to be a preacher. After a short stint studying Theology, Dunn moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, then on to Nashville after winning the Marlboro Country Showdown talent contest. In 1990, the pair were introduced by Arista Records’ Tim DuBois, and the history of Books and Dunn began.
Debut album “Brand New Man” yielded four straight number one singles, and a total of five top tens. The follow-up, 1993’s “Hard Workin’ Man,” charted five top fives, including two number ones. The next three albums – “Waitin’ On Sundown,” “Borderline,” and “If You See Her” – produced a combined 13 top ten singles, including eight number ones. The 1997 “Greatest Hits Collection” featured three new tracks, two of which – “Honky Tonk Truth” and “He’s Got You” – hit the top five.
1999’s “Tightrope” was the duo’s least successful album commercially; only three singles were released, the most successful of which peaked at number five. The guys didn’t let this get them down, however – they came roaring back with 2001’s “Steers and Stripes.” The album’s first release, “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You,” became their most successful single ever, spending six weeks at number one on Billboard’s country chart. The album also included the fan-favorite “Only In America” and “The Long Goodbye,” which both hit number one as well.
“Red Dirt Road” (2003), “Hillbilly DeLuxe” (2005), and “Cowboy Town” (2007) yielded two more number ones, and seven additional top tens; two tracks from their second “Greatest Hits Collection” (2004) also made the tops five. Their last release, “#1s…and then some” was released late in 2009, shortly after their August 10th announcement that they would split up after 2010’s “Last Rodeo Tour.” The duo sold over 30 million records in their career, with a total of 23 number ones, and 80 major music awards.
Among Brooks and Dunn’s most memorable collaborations were two tours and two singles (“If You See Him/If You See Her” and “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”) with Reba McEntire; and the memorable video for the single “Honky Tonk Truth,” which featured the late Dale Earnhardt – whom Brooks bore a striking resemblance to – in a very uncharacteristic role for “The Intimidator” of NASCAR, playing guitar and hamming it up with one of his favorite recording acts.
While the duo will be missed on the charts, we haven’t seen the last of them – Brooks continues his hosting gig on the syndicated radio show “American Country Countdown,” and Dunn is working on a solo project.
sources: brooks-dunn.com (biographies since taken down)
“Brooks & Dunn,” wikipedia.org