It was the country music equivalent of a sonic boom a sound so bold, so different and so powerful it sent shock waves throughout country radio and up the charts. That sound was "Brand New Man," the chart-topping debut single that heralded the high-octane arrival of Brooks & Dunn in 1991. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn came out with musical guns blazing and in the years since have become the most successful duo in the history of country music.
Brooks & Dunns creative journey unfolds on #1s ?and then some, a sweeping 30-song set that includes such chart-topping hits as "Neon Moon," "My Next Broken Heart," "Husbands and Wives," "Aint Nothing Bout You," "Only in America" and "Red Dirt Road." The collection also includes the fast-climbing new single "Honky Tonk Stomp," a swampy anthem that features Billy Gibbons, and "Indian Summer," a picturesque coming-of-age tale about young love and consequences.
"We were playing at a fair and I just remember looking out behind it and there was a wheat field out there. It all came together in my head. I just started thinking this little adventure story about a girl who got hooked up with a football player," recalls Kix, who enlisted Bob DiPiero and Ronnie to help finish the tune.
"Honky Tonk Stomp" was penned by Ronnie, Bobby Pinson and Terry McBride. "Pinson said, Ive got this weird idea, and away we went. We wrote the song without a title, and Im going, What do we call it? So finally I said, Okay, its "Honky Tonk Stomp,"" says Ronnie, who then enlisted Gibbons to add his distinctive vocal flair.
"Indian Summer" and "Honky Tonk Stomp" fit comfortably among the Brooks & Dunn classics on #1s ?and then some. Those 23 #1 hits are touchstones in an impressive body of work that has helped define country music during the last two decades. When Brooks & Dunns debut landed in 1991, the first four singles "Brand New Man," "My Next Broken Heart," "Neon Moon," and "Boot Scootin Boogie" all went to #1 on Billboards Country singles chart. Their debut album, Brand New Man, has been certified six times platinum. Since that auspicious debut, Brooks & Dunn have reigned supreme, charting more than 50 singles, releasing 10 studio albums, two greatest hits packages and a Christmas collection. Two of their #1 hits, "My Maria" and "Aint Nothing Bout You," were named Billboards #1 country singles of the year in 1996 and 2001, respectively.
The duos list of accolades is almost too numerous to mention, encompassing over 80 major industry awards and more than 30 million albums sold. Brooks & Dunn have won 19 Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1996. They won the CMA Vocal Duo honor every year from 1992 through 2006, except for 2000. Their hit "Believe" won Single and Video of the Year in 2006. Theyve won three American Music Awards for Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group and two Grammys for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for "My Maria" and "Hard Workin Man." They are the most awarded of any act duo or otherwise in the history of the Academy of Country Music, capturing 26 ACM trophies in all, including three Entertainer of the Year titles.
The Brooks & Dunn juggernaut began when the former head of their record label at Arista Nashville was looking to sign a duo and introduced the two songwriters. "Its so common in Nashville for people to hook people up," says Kix. "For me, it was just another day at the bank, you know, where you go in and hope something good happens. The thought of having a 20-year career with this guy was impossible! I mean, there was no chance THAT was going to happen. The chance that we might get a record deal, possibly have some success and make some royalties off our songs thats kind of what I was thinking of as best case scenario."
Though both were initially hesitant to pin their hopes too high, the creative chemistry was immediate. They wrote their first two #1 hits "Brand New Man" and "My Next Broken Heart" the same day. "I went home, I remember, after writing Next Broken Heart and telling [my wife] Janine I didnt like the song," Ronnie laughs. "And it became a #1 song! It was the second #1 off the record. So we wrote two #1s that day."