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Brooks & Dunn

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Biography

The undisputed kings of the '90s line-dancing craze, Brooks & Dunn are not only the biggest-selling duo in country music history, they've also sold more records than any other duo period, including Simon & Garfunkel. Ronnie Dunn was the quietly intense singer with the soulful voice, while Kix Brooks played the part of the high-energy showman. Neither had been able to break through as a solo act, but together they hit upon a winning formula of rambunctious, rocked-up honky tonk with punchy, danceable beats, and alternated those cuts with smooth, pop-tinged ballads. The combination made them one of the most popular country artists of the '90s, and they were still going strong as the new millennium dawned. Leon Eric "Kix" Brooks (born in Shreveport, Louisiana) and Ronnie Gene Dunn (born in Coleman, Texas) arrived in Nashville from very different backgrounds. Brooks was a neighbor of Johnny Horton and first began singing with the country legend's daughter at age 12; after a time working on the Alaskan oil pipeline, he moved to Maine and performed in ski resorts and other local venues. He went to Nashville in the early '80s and found success as a songwriter, penning hits for John Conlee, Highway 101, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among others; however, his solo recordings -- a few small-label singles in 1983 and a self-titled album in 1989 -- failed to make any impact. Dunn, meanwhile, had been playing with traditional string bands since he was a teenager, but originally aspired to become a Baptist minister. He attended the highly conservative Abilene Christian University, but was kicked out for continuing to play music on the side in area bars. He decided to pursue music full-time and moved to Tulsa, where he led a house band and recorded for a local label from 1983-1984. In 1988, he won a songwriting contest whose prize included a recording session in Nashville; the producer, Scott Hendricks, was impressed enough to pass some of Dunn's material on to Arista executive Tim DuBois. DuBois had a hunch that Dunn and Brooks would complement each other well, and he introduced the two and encouraged them to try writing and recording some demo songs together. When he heard the results, DuBois signed the newly minted Brooks & Dunn duo to a contract. Brooks & Dunn issued their debut album, Brand New Man, in 1991, and it was an out-of-the-box smash. The title track, "My Next Broken Heart," "Neon Moon," and "Boot Scootin' Boogie" all hit number one on the country charts, and the latter song in particular was an inescapable smash that helped kick-start the line-dancing fad that swept country bars across the nation. Brand New Man eventually went on to sell over five million copies and made the duo into country superstars; their supporting tour established their penchant for theatrical live shows as well. Their follow-up, Hard Workin' Man, consolidated their success with a string of five Top Five country hits: the title track, the number ones "She Used to Be Mine" and "That Ain't No Way to Go," and the number twos "We'll Burn That Bridge" and "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)." Hard Workin' Man sold over four million copies, and by the time its run of singles was exhausted, the duo had already completed a follow-up in 1994's Waitin' on Sundown. Five more Top Ten hits followed, including the number ones "She's Not the Cheatin' Kind," "Little Miss Honky Tonk," and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" (the others were "I'll Never Forgive My Heart" and "Whiskey Under the Bridge"). Waitin' on Sundown went double platinum, confirming Brooks & Dunn's status as a blockbuster success. Brooks & Dunn's commercial dominance continued apace with 1996's Borderline, another double-platinum success which produced two more chart-toppers in "My Maria" (a cover of the B.W. Stevenson pop hit from 1972) and "A Man This Lonely," and a number two hit in "I Am That Man." In 1997, the duo issued The Greatest Hits Compilation, whose new tracks, "Honky Tonk Truth" and "He's Got You," both reached the Top Five. And they weren't done as hitmakers by any means; despite failing to go platinum, 1998's If You See Her contained two number ones in "Husbands and Wives" (a Roger Miller cover) and "How Long Gone," and another Top Five hit in "I Can't Get Over You." With such a consistent track record, Brooks & Dunn were perhaps due for the inevitable slip, and 1999's Tight Rope was the closest thing to a commercial misstep they'd ever recorded. Despite some chance-taking in the production and the cover of rocker John Waite's ballad "Missing You," other parts of the album found their formula wearing thin. The record produced only one Top Ten hit in "You'll Always Be Loved by Me," and failed to even go gold. Faced with a downturn in their sales, Brooks & Dunn spent more time crafting their next album, 2001's Steers and Stripes. It helped restore their commercial fortunes with a trio of chart-topping singles: "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," "Only in America," and "The Long Goodbye." The following year, the duo issued their first holiday album, It Won't Be Christmas Without You. The duo pushed the envelope even further with 2003's Red Dirt Road, a song cycle that served as both a biography and a tribute to their roots and upbringing. The rowdy Hillbilly Deluxe, a Top Ten hit, followed in 2005, with 2007 bringing Cowboy Town, released on Arista Records. Brooks & Dunn decided to hang up their boots following their Last Rodeo farewell tour, which stretched through 2010. When the tour was announced in 2009, it was accompanied by the release of #1s...And Then Some. Brooks and Dunn both pursued solo projects during the early 2010s, but they reunited to play a series of Vegas concerts in 2015. This kick-started a comeback that culminated with the 2019 release of Reboot, an album where they revisited their big hits with the assistance of younger country stars. ~ Steve Huey
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Brand New Man
  3.   My Maria
  4.   Boot Scootin' Boogie
  5.   Neon Moon
  6.   Only in America
  7.   Red Dirt Road
  8.   That Ain't No Way to Go
  9.   Ain't Nothing 'Bout You
  10.   My Next Broken Heart
  11.   She's Not the Cheatin' Kind
  12.   Rock My World (Little Country Girl)
  13.   Believe
  14.   Hillbilly Deluxe
  15.   She Used to Be Mine
  16.   Hard Workin' Man
  17.   Cowgirls Don't Cry
  18.   Play Something Country
  19.   That's What It's All About
  20.   Winter Wonderland
  21.   I'll Be Home For Christmas
  22.   The Christmas Song
  23.   Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
  24.   Little Miss Honky Tonk
  25.   You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
  26.   You Can't Take the Honky Tonk out of the Girl
  27.   A Man This Lonely
  28.   That's What She Gets for Loving Me
  29.   Blue Christmas
  30.   Lost and Found
  31.   It's Getting Better All the Time
  32.   If You See Him, If You See Her
  33.   We'll Burn That Bridge
  34.   Honky Tonk Stomp by Billy Gibbons
  35.   Against the Wind
  36.   Building Bridges
  37.   The Long Goodbye
  38.   How Long Gone
  39.   Put a Girl in It
  40.   Best of My Love
  41.   Rockin' Little Christmas
  42.   White Christmas
  43.   Mama Don't Get Dressed up For Nothing
  44.   Indian Summer
  45.   God Must Be Busy
  46.   He's Got You
  47.   Honky Tonk Truth
  48.   I'll Never Forgive My Heart
  49.   Believe by Kane Brown
  50.   It Won't Be Christmas Without You
  51.   Heartbroke out of My Mind
  52.   Walk Away Slow
  53.   The Long Haul
  54.   Proud of the House We Built
  55.   White Line Casanova
  56.   I May Never Get Over You
  57.   I Am That Man
  58.   Why Would I Say Goodbye
  59.   Cool Drink of Water
  60.   Drunk on Love
  61.   Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker
  62.   Our Time Is Coming
  63.   Way Gone
  64.   She's the Kind of Trouble
  65.   Hangin' Round the Mistletoe
  66.   Good Girls Go to Heaven
  67.   I Ain't Living Long Like This
  68.   All Out of Love
  69.   The Fightin' Side of Me
  70.   Damn Right I'm Gonna Miss You
  71.   Cowboy, Cowboy
  72.   Drop in the Bucket
  73.   Johnny Cash Junkie (Buck Owens Freak)
  74.   Your Love Don't Take a Backseat to Nothing
  75.   You're My Angel
  76.   Whiskey Under the Bridge
  77.   When She's Gone, She's Gone
  78.   Till My Dyin' Day
  79.   The Last Thing I Do
  80.   Tequila Town
  81.   Silver and Gold
  82.   Santa's Coming Over to Your House
  83.   Redneck Rhythm & Blues
  84.   One Heartache At a Time
  85.   My Heart's Not A Hotel
  86.   More Than a Margarita
  87.   Lucky Me, Lonely You
  88.   Just Another Neon Night
  89.   Independent Trucker
  90.   I've Got a Lot to Learn
  91.   I Used To Know This Song By Heart
  92.   Hurt Train
  93.   Holy War
  94.   Go West
  95.   Brand New Whiskey
  96.   Beer Thirty
  97.   If That's the Way You Want It
  98.   When Love Dies
  99.   American Dreamer
  100.   My Kind of Crazy
  101.   You'll Always Be Loved by Me
  102.   Mama Don't Get Dressed Up for Nothing by LANCO
  103.   A Few Good Rides Away
  104.   Chance of a Lifetime
  105.   Tequila
  106.   Cowboy Town
  107.   Unloved
  108.   Too Far This Time
  109.   Texas Women (Don't Stay Lonely Long)
  110.   South of Santa Fe
  111.   She Was Born To Run
  112.   She Likes To Get Out Of Town
  113.   See Jane Dance
  114.   My Heart Is Lost to You
  115.   Missing You
  116.   Mexican Minutes
  117.   Memory Town
  118.   I'm No Good
  119.   I Can't Get Over You
  120.   Her West Was Wilder
  121.   Good Cowboy
  122.   Every River
  123.   Deny, Deny, Deny
  124.   Days of Thunder
  125.   My Love Will Follow You
  126.   My Baby's Everything I Love
  127.   Caroline
  128.   Swing It
  129.   Again
  130.   Keep On Swinging
  131.   Who Says There Ain't No Santa
  132.   When We Were Kings
  133.   The Trouble with Angels
  134.   Texas and Norma Jean
  135.   Temptation #9
  136.   Still in Love with You
  137.   She's About As Lonely As I'm Going To Let Her Get
  138.   One More Roll Of The Dice
  139.   I Love You More
  140.   I Fall
  141.   I Can't Put Out This Fire
  142.   Husbands and Wives
  143.   Good Day To Be Me
  144.   Feels Good Don't It
  145.   Don't Look Back Now
  146.   Cheating on the Blues
  147.   Can't Stop My Heart
  148.   Goin' Under Gettin' Over You
  149.   Born and Raised in Black and White
  150.   Whiskey Do My Talkin'
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