Leon Eric “Kix” Brooks III was born May 12, 1955, in Shreveport, La., and worked the club circuit in Alaska and Maine before moving to Nashville in 1979. Ronnie Gene Dunn was born June 1, 1953, in Coleman, Texas, and briefly studied theology at Abilene (Texas) Christian College before moving to Tulsa, Okla. There, he fronted the house band at a popular nightspot called Duke’s Country. Later, he broke into the national spotlight by winning a talent contest sponsored by Marlboro.
In 1990, Arista Records’ Tim DuBois put the two hopefuls together. “Brand New Man,” the duo’s first single, blasted to No. 1 in 1991, followed by the chart-topping “My Next Broken Heart,” “Neon Moon” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” Their debut album Brand New Man has since sold more than 6 million copies. They kept up their winning streak with more No. 1 hits: “She Used to Be Mine,” “That Ain’t No Way to Go,” “She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind,” “Little Miss Honky Tonk” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.”
Dunn usually serves as the lead vocalist while Brooks plays guitar and works the stage. Although they write most of their material, a 1996 remake of “My Maria” spent three weeks at No. 1. They won the CMA entertainer of the year trophy in 1996.
In 1998, a duet with Reba McEntire (“If You See Him/If You See Her”) reached No. 1, and they toured together extensively. The duo’s 1999 album Tight Rope failed to yield a smash hit, but they returned in a big way with “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You” in 2001. The song spent six weeks at No. 1, and the follow-up “Only in America” became a rallying cry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The duo also launched the hugely popular Neon Circus & Wild West Show tour, bringing along a variety of up-and-coming acts.
The album Red Dirt Road arrived in 2003, which the duo supported by touring smaller markets. The title track