Brooks & Dunn Announce Break-Up

Pierce Greenberg | August 11th, 2009

brooks-and-dunn-break-up

After nearly 20 years and 41 Top 10 hits, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are going their separate ways.

Rumors started to swirl yesterday afternoon, and the break-up was confirmed when the award-winning duo posted this message on their official website:

“After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it’s time call it a day. This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed…. We owe it all to you, the fans. If you hear rumors, don’t believe them, it’s just time.”

The group will release its #1’s and Then Some album on September 8th and will take The Last Rodeo Tour on the road next summer.

There has been speculation for several years that the duo was nearing the end. In the fall of 2007, several media outlets including GAC and Country Weekly reported that Brooks and Dunn were going to start pursuing solo projects.

“In the contract we are signing now…we are allowed to release solo projects,” said Dunn in a 2007 interview with The Tennessean. “That doesn’t mean the franchise is in danger.”

Dunn, in particular, seemed to have an itch to go solo.

“We talk about it all the time. Individual styles just gravitate to something that we really like and we’ll do 10 or 12 songs and throw them out there,” said Dunn, according to a 2007 gactv.com article. “It doesn’t have to be a big hit; it’s just more of a personal, fulfilling mission than anything.”

Brooks also might have been hinting towards the break-up. Last Wednesday, he played a songwriters night at the Douglas Corner Café in Nashville. He also participated in this year’s Tin Pan South—one of just a few solo appearances over the last several years. On his weekly American Country Countdown radio show this past weekend, Brooks alluded to relaxing on a Caribbean island by age 60. Brooks is 54.

Brooks and Dunn’s personal lives have been relatively private—and completely separate. It’s a well-known fact that the duo rides separate tour buses and rarely sees each other, except when on-stage. Still, according to a CBS News special, they unite for a pre-show shot of whiskey before pleasing the thousands of fans that come to see them on tour. Such is the routine for a long-time touring duo.

While many have speculated over the relationship between Brooks and Dunn over the years, there is nothing official to indicate that the duo didn’t get along.

Ever since their 6x platinum-selling 1991 debut album Brand New Man, the duo’s album sales have been declining. Their 2007 release Cowboy Town has yet to reach platinum status.

The album sales dip might just reflect the economy and business, but Brooks & Dunn have also been struggling in terms of radio play—at least by their own standards. In the past three years, the twosome has had three singles fail to reach the Top 10. Before 2006, only four single releases didn’t make the Top 10—a remarkable achievement in its own right.

Reaction

The internet went abuzz with comments once the announcement of the break-up was made public. Here’s what people were saying:

“Sad day…Brooks & Dunn going their separate ways. Let me just say thanks to those guys for giving us all the soundtrack to our lives. I’ll even go as far as saying: Ronnie Dunn, you are the greatest singer in the business and one of the best of all time. Thank you.” – Jake Owen (@jakeofficial), country artist

“Brooks and Dunn call it quits after 20 years together. Maybe they ran out of room to put all of their awards. I will miss interviewing them.” – Katie Cook (@TheKatieCook), CMT reporter

“Timely though they still had a lot of years left I think. Songs? Neon Moon, brand New Man,Nothin about you, Long Goodbye is my fav” – Jeff Dykhuis (@jeffdykhuis) – The 9513 follower

“Brooks & Dunn are splitting up. I wonder who’ll get custody of the state fair circuit.” – Tim Siedell (@badbanana), blogger

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  1. [...] Brooks & Dunn Announce Break-Up | The 9513brooks-and-dunn-break-up. After nearly 20 years and 41 Top 10 hits, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are going their separate ways. Rumors started to swirl yesterday afternoon, and the break-up was confirmed when the award-winning duo posted …Read More [...]
  1. Karlie
    August 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Wow, big news…! I’m pretty excited about a possible Ronnie Dunn solo album though.

  2. Rick
    August 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Yawn. I was wondering when these pioneers of the “corporate country” sound would finally run out of steam. Randy Houser came along at the perfect time to take their mantle and continue releasing endless variations of “Boot Scoot Boogie”. Sheesh…

  3. Pierce
    August 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Yeah, just decided to throw this piece together real quick so we’d have something on it.

    I grew up with Brooks & Dunn, “Red Dirt Road” perhaps being the defining song of my teenage years. I’ve been to probably 7 or 8 of their concerts.

    Towards the end though, it was getting stale. Their music didn’t change for the better. Their set-list became predictable. Their better years are behind them.

    I still think that first Greatest Hits album is one of the best out there.

  4. Andrew Lacy
    August 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Their recent stuff hasn’t been great but I’m going to choose to selectively remember their ’90s material and am thus sad to see them go. I grew up on these guys. Hopefully going solo will rejuvenate Ronnie as an artist.

  5. Leeann Ward
    August 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Yup, I grew up on them too. Even my sister, who never listens to country music nowadays, called me this morning when she heard the news…and we weren’t even a country music listening family as a whole.

    At this point, I don’t really expect any surprises from a Ronnie Dunn solo album, probably because his output is a known quantity, since he fronts most of the bands music. I’m more curious about what Kix might do, since he seems like the duo member who is less well known. Perhaps I’m simply judging this by what we hear though. For all I know, Brooks is the driving force behind what we’ve been hearing for the past 18 years, even though it’s been Dunn that we’ve been hearing.

  6. Ken Morton Jr
    August 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    It’s only one song, but I thought the gospel-sounding “Believe” off of Hillbilly Deluxe was something fresh and something new from the duo. After as many hits and albums as they have had, I’m sure it’s difficult to make a new fresh reinvention and with that song- they did.

  7. JD
    August 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “…I grew up on these guys…”

    Damn, I’m getting old!

  8. TenPoundHammer
    August 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I’m not too surprised. Their mid 2000s work has been surprisingly weak, with a few exceptions (I agree that “Believe” and “Hillbilly Deluxe” were stylistic departures). Ronnie’s been carrying around some dead weight (some mandolinist in a ‘stache and hat) way too long. It’s been all Dunn Dunn Dunn, no Kix at all; he just sings two notes of harmony and doesn’t even play guitar or mandolin on the albums.

  9. waynoe
    August 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Karlie,

    Ronnie Dunn has been doing solo work for years. Just listen to their songs.

  10. TenPoundHammer
    August 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Waynoe, good one.

  11. Mayor Jobob
    August 11, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    oh mai gawd! But seriously, they were starting to get stale…

  12. Mike Parker
    August 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Actually, I’m one of the ten people that bought Kix’s solo album. It’s long been scratched to oblivion, but I remember enjoying the songs, if not loving the vocals. He’s a talented writer, and he did get to sing a few pretty good B&D tunes in the early years. Shoot, maybe Sugarland will offer him a job. You can never have too many face-making guitar players in one group…

  13. idlewildsouth
    August 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    So, last night I was hanging out with some friends, talking about how I had spent my Friday evening at Kix Brook’s Arrington Vineyards. In response to that, my friend said “Did you hear that they’re done?”. At first, I was sad, because I really enjoy spending time at Arrington Vineyards. Then, I realized he was talking about Brooks and Dunn. I wasn’t quite as sad.

  14. Michelle
    August 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    All good things must come to an end I guess. Sadly but surely. Brooks -n- Dunn became one of a kind a long time ago and have certainly become one of the major country music history makers. They will be missed but they do deserve to live the rest of their lives peacefully and without the spotlight..they certainly have the money to do so!

  15. TenPoundHammer
    August 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Mike Parker – Kix’ debut had “Sacred Ground”, which was later covered by McBride & the Ride.

  16. Saving Country Music
    August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I just love it when artists refer to their names as “franchises.”

  17. Occasional Hope
    August 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve got Kix’s debut, too. I’ve certainly heard worse.

  18. Miss Leslie
    August 11, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I always thought that “Play Something Country” was the most ironic song in the entire world. As much as Brooks and Dunn do nothing for me, I don’t see the 2 going solo. There are some duos that just have a special magic as a duo (e.g., The Judds), that even though the 2 are immensely talented as soloists – that magic doesn’t stand on its own.

  19. TenPoundHammer
    August 11, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I actually think that Wynonna had a certain magic of her own outside the Judds. Her phrasing totally changed when she went solo; she became a tad deeper and more blues-y, and it sounded great. That, and not unlike with Ronnie and B&D, Wynonna carried about 99% of the weight, with Naomi providing maybe three notes’ worth of harmony in the whole song.

    B&D was always unbalanced since Kix has a much different voice that doesn’t really complement Ronnie’s too well, and Ronnie has more of a country sound and personality compared to Kix’ thinner, almost genreless voice. I heard them both sing lead on a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” from one of the Red Hot albums, and it sounded rather jarring. (This may also be the only thing that they’ve shared lead on.)

    Seriously, what’s the point of even MAKING a freaking duo if the members are like oil and water? Did they always use separate tour buses, etc.?

  20. Andrew Lacy
    August 11, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Did they always use separate tour buses, etc.?

    Actually, they did. I seem to recall reading somewhere that they had little interaction when they weren’t in studio, on stage or sharing a shot of whiskey before their shows.

    It really is kind of amazing how a manufactured duo like them were able to do so well for so long.

  21. timothy
    August 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I really worry about Kix Brooks. He seemed always to get the short end of the deal. Fewer of his songs get to be released as singles. Most fans often prefer Dunn’s voice over Brooks. Also, Dunn seems to be more a dominant person that Brooks. So, for Brooks sake, the breakup may be good.

  22. Leeann Ward
    August 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I don’t know. I think The Judds sounded far more like a duo than B&D ever have. You can really never hear the other sing on their records. If it’s Ronnie doing lead, you can’t hear Kix and the same goes for the other way around.

    I think CMW said it best at Country California when he said of D&D: ”
    “You’re an inspiration to arranged marriages everywhere.”:)

  23. Jeri
    August 11, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    TRULY SAD NEWS! They’ve provided us with tons of entertainment value with a wide array of musical styles e.g. BELIEVE to HILLBILLY DELUXE. Ronnie with the tremendous vocals and Kix with the heart and soul and glue that made them who they are.

    Personally I don’t think enough credit was ever given to Kix. Why the label would not release his songs is beyond comprehension e.g. MEMORY TOWN–a personal favorite–SILVER AND GOLD or any number of songs. I really think he was the backbone to the duo. Sometimes there is more than just the vocals and what appears on the surface. Kix was the entertainment and Ronnie was more of the Alan Jackson/George Strait stand there and sing type and SING HE DID. I don’t think Ronnie ever would have made it on his own due to his obvious shyness/introvertness and private nature – at least in the early years. I think Kix really brought him out of that to some degree.

    I think Kix will do extremely well for himself, he’s a great songwriter (ONLY IN AMERICA, etc.), has a growing popular vineyard and the countdown as well as his work with the CMA and a zillion other organizations. I often wondered how he fits everything in — has to be an “A” type personality. Maybe this will allow him to spend more time with his lovely wife and their horses :)

    Ronnie I see moving to Sante Fe and out of the Nashville allergyville. It seems that he has such difficulty with the allergies and probably health wise needs to be removed from that and get off of all of the meds he’s probably on because of that? Who knows. But a truely blessed vocalist is leaving the stage.

    Just wish them all of the best in the world and happiness for them and their families and loved ones.

  24. Noeller
    August 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I dunno, say what you want about their recent stuff, and say what you want about the contrived nature of their relationship, but I choose to remember the Brand New Man album and its greatness. It was the soundtrack to my early teen years and I’m eternally grateful for that.

  25. Marc
    August 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Brooks & Done. RIP (Pieces)

    Nothing lost for me.

    Alan Jackson, you’re on deck….

  26. Mayor Jobob
    August 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Kix hasn’t had a single in the ‘franchise’ since ’99 (South of Santa Fe). His solo work was somewhat enjoyable (Baby When Your Heart Breaks Down).

    Has anyone heard Ronnie Dunn’s earliest solo singles from the early 80’s? They’re very hard to find.

  27. Noeller
    August 11, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I have been on a desperate hunt to find a Kix Brooks version of the Dirt Band’s “Modern Day Romance” which he wrote. I have no idea if he ever recorded it for a solo project, but man, I’d kill to hear his version of that tune.

  28. idlewildsouth
    August 11, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    As far as wether or not a solo career will go anywhere for either of them, id say its probably doubtful. I mean, as has been stated here already, they’ve over shot their commercial viability already, and besides that, there’s a reason neither of them were successful as solo artists prior to being paired together.

    Concerning their dual bus situation: I’d say thats probably why they have lasted as long as they have. Considering they were manufactured, it’s not like they formed some great bond together to make them best friends. They happened to mesh well on a musical level, so its no surprise they’re not best friends or anything.

  29. Rick
    August 12, 2009 at 1:18 am

    There seems to be a common theme among the die hard B&D fans here that they “grew up listening to their music”. I grew up in the 60’s listening to the Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Jethro Tull, the Doors and psychadelic rock and roll. When I started listening to country full time in the mid 80’s it was the Randy Travis / Ricky Skaggs types that blew me away. When B&D came along I really liked “Neon Moon” and their other early stuff but I never really got excited about their music compared to say Alan Jackson, Ricky Van Shelton, or even Wade Hayes. The B&D music was fun, catchy and hook laden but just seemed to lack any real substance…

  30. Jon
    August 12, 2009 at 3:27 am

    I’d be hard pressed to think of any group in any genre that wouldn’t like to at least have the option of separate buses, not even – or maybe especially – the ones with married members.

  31. Leeann Ward
    August 12, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Yeah, I’m with Jon. It makes complete sense that they would have separate buses since they can. Even the best of friends who aren’t romantically linked typically live apart once they’re able to financially do so. Why would two very established married men essentially live together, as tour busses are basically second homes, if they have the option not to?

  32. JD
    August 12, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Rick: I’m with you. I guess we were lucky to have “grown up” with acts that actually changed the face of modern music. I kinda chuckle when I read about people “growing up” to Journey or Brooks & Dunn or other musically insignificant-to-the-big-picture groups. No slight meant to anyone, you just don’t always get to pick who you grow up with…

  33. Stormy
    August 12, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Don’t feel too bad for us because we also got to grow up with bands like Nirvana and Run DMC who likely wrought more changes on music than anyone before or since.

  34. JD
    August 12, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Nirvana and Run DMC

    Right. Unbelievable lasting impact. Puts the Beatles to shame…. not to mention Elvis…. or Hank….

    Right up there with disco……. you remember that, right?

  35. Leeann Ward
    August 12, 2009 at 7:58 am

    JD,
    Did you grow up with Hank?

  36. JD
    August 12, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Nah…. he was already 2 years into a dirt nap by time I was born.

    However, I was regularly exposed to his music as a kid, though it probably had more of a negative impact than anything else.

    His true impact on me, came later in my “growth cycle”.

  37. PaulaW
    August 12, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I’ve grown weary of Brooks and Dunn over the years. I guess all good things must end.

    I’ve heard / seen Kix recently at a couple of events – acoustic gigs – and I’m quite impressed with Kix. I never thought he got the recognition or credit he deserved as part of the duo, and after recent events, I’m more convinced of that than ever.

    I recently heard him sing “Red Dirt Road” acoustic, live, at Douglas Corner, and it outshone Ronnie’s version by light years.

  38. Josh
    August 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    PaulaW,

    Any chance we can find that Red Dirt Road version of Kix??? I’d love to hear his version as well…

    As for the “marriage” concept of B&D…it’s interesting that they managed to do so well musically, but not like so on personal level. I’m surprised that even if I were told that their family members don’t get together over the holidays…at least this is what I’m sensing from the earlier commentaries. But man, they sure did put out a lot of great stuff. Sure hope one of them or both come out with their own biographies to share a bit on their feelings of their manufactured success. I wish them luck and God bless ‘em for giving us some classic line dance music.

  39. Rick
    August 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    If Kix is out doing acoustic songwriter’s nights around Nashville, I’d guess he’s tired of playing “Kristian Bush” to Ronnie Dunn after all these years. With his winery and all the money he’s earned Kix has likely decided to live the rest of his life on his terms, not as part of that arranged musical marriage. I sure can’t blame him…

  40. Taylor
    August 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Do none of you remember Kix sang lead on some of the best B&D singles (and country singles) of all time?

    “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” – one of the only modern country songs to actually EQUAL the quality and timelessness of anything the Eagles put out

    “Lost and Found” – amazing song

  41. James S.
    August 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Like others here, I grew up on their 90’s music, which I really enjoy, but haven’t been all that impressed with their 2000’s material. There were a few I liked such as “Every River,” “My Heart Is Lost To You,” and “It’s Getting Better All The Time.”

    I’m actually more interested in seeing what Kix does next. I like his vocal style, plus I’m just tired of hearing Ronnie all the time since 2000.

  42. Steve Harvey
    August 12, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    I can’t say I’m sick of hearing Dunn (I’ll never be sick of that voice!) but I definitely want to hear some more from Brooks – South of Santa Fe is one of my favourite Brooks & Dunn tunes, and I’m always irritated at how underrated it is.

  43. Mayor Jobob
    August 12, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Was Kix even trying towards the end? He went from songs like “Still in Love With You” to “Drop in the Bucket” and “See Jane Dance”. Blecch

  44. Pierce
    August 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Kix’s version of “Red Dirt Road” is a lot different. I remember seeing it on a CMT special that aired about the group.

    It’s slowed and toned down, big time. It’s definitely more “songwriters night” material than the recorded version.

  45. Lucas
    August 14, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Hopefully they do some reunion stuff… or break-up like KISS did… not at all.

  46. merlefan49
    August 25, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    After hearing their song independent trucker no wonder, this has to be the worse songs of the year

  47. sgblack
    December 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I saw Brookes & Dunn on a country music talk show this morning. Ronnie Dunn appears to me not to be well. He looked strung out, but really seemed to me like he was having coordination problems with his arms and shaking in his left hands. Don’t want to start any rumors…just wondered if anyone else noticed his reflexes seemed to be very delayed. Wondered if health problems were an issue for the break up.

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