Bass player and vocalist Ronnie Dunn (born Ronnie Gene Dunn) joined Louisiana-born Leon Eric "Kix" Brooks to create the most successful country music duo of the 1990s. Their debut album, Brand New Man, released in 1991, sold more than six million copies, while their first two singles -- "Brand New Man" and "My Next Broken Heart," their first songwriting collaborations, reached the top position on Billboard's country music charts. In addition to 20 chart-topping tunes, they've placed an additional 21 songs in the Top Ten. The recipients of Entertainer of the Year awards from the Country Music Association in 1996, and the Academy of Country Music in 1995 and 1996, Brooks & Dunn shared Duo of the Year honors from the CMA for eight consecutive years, and from the ACM for seven consecutive years (their non-consecutive wins place the total even higher and they are the most awarded act in The Academy of Country Music's history).
The son of a country music enthusiast, Dunn was born in Coleman, Texas, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Playing in bands since his teens, he briefly studied psychology and theology at Abilene Christian College. Expelled from the school for "performing in honky tonks," he continued to attract attention with his Tulsa nightclub performances. Although Dunn recorded several tunes for Churchill Records in 1983 and 1984, none provided a breakthrough. He fared much better four years later, when an appearance in the Marlboro National Country Music talent contest led to an opportunity to record in Nashville. Brought together with Brooks, who despite writing songs for Crystal Gayle and the Oak Ridge Boys had found little success with his own recordings (by Tim DuBois), Dunn finally discovered a formula for success.
Brooks & Dunn’s 1991 debut, Brand New Man, was a hit out of the gate, launching a career that proved to be one of the most successful in contemporary country music. Ronnie Dunn played with Kix Brooks for nearly two decades, and during that time they were always at the top of the country charts, racking up an astonishing 20 number one singles during that time. The duo announced an amicable split in 2009 followed by a farewell tour in 2010. Dunn was the first of the pair to launch a solo career, releasing a self-produced eponymous solo album in the summer of 2011. Ronnie Dunn debuted at number one on the U.S. country charts and had a Top Ten single in "Bleed Red." Dunn's 2014 album, Peace, Love and Country Music, didn't make any waves -- neither of its singles cracked the Billboard Top 40 -- so he switched to Nash Icon in 2016, releasing the album Tattooed Heart in November of that year. ~ Craig Harris