When Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks joined forces in 1990 to form Brooks & Dunn, the duo took country music by storm. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the impact the duo had on country music. In short, Brooks & Dunn are the greatest duo in the history of the genre. And when you start talking about all-genre importance, only Simon & Garfunkel have sold more records as a duo.
With a generational voice—and the songwriting chops to match—Ronnie helped bring to life B&D’s iconic catalog of ballads, bangers, and boot-scooters.
In honor of Ronnie Dunn’s 68th birthday on June 1, 2021, let’s take a look at five of the best B&D songs he wrote and sang lead on.
Brand New Ronnie Dunn
Ronnie and Kix were both solo artists in the 1980s before forming Brooks & Dunn in 1990. The boys came firing out of a cannon with their debut single, “Brand New Man.” The song was a total country jam. Penned by Ronnie, Kix, and Don Cook, “Brand New Man” was released on June 10, 1991. By September, the tune reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. “Brand New Man” was the first of 20 No. 1 hits for the duo.
To The Moon
Ronnie left no doubt he was a vocal powerhouse on the duo’s first two singles, “Brand New Man” and “My Next Broken Heart.” But if you want to hear Ronnie’s voice reach a new stratosphere of beauty, just spin the duo’s third single, “Neon Moon.” Ronnie penned the song by himself, and like its predecessors, “Neon Moon” soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1992.
Before he teamed with Kix, Ronnie penned “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” which Asleep at the Wheel cut in 1990. Brooks & Dunn cut the tune on their debut album and helped reinvigorate the line-dancing craze of the ’90s. In fact, you can’t spell “line dance” without Ronnie belting out “Yeah, heel, toe, docie doe come on baby let’s go.” Of course, the song reached No. 1 in 1992—and stayed there for four weeks.
For the their third studio album in 1994, the duo chose lead single, “She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind.” Penned solely by Ronnie, “She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind” is the perfect example of Ronnie’s seemingly effortless vocal prowess. Just listen to Ronnie deliver the last verse before the chorus. He wails in the best sort of way: “And by the way she’s drinkin’, his memory’s drownin'” and “Well it’s too late, and that’s too bad.” The tune reached No. 1 in October 1994.
Brooks & Dunn released “Believe” in 2005. It’s the only song on this list that didn’t reach No. 1 (it peaked at No. 8). However, there’s not a finer example of Ronnie’s stunning voice—out front with minimal production (organ and guitar)—than this ballad. Penned by Ronnie and Craig Wiseman, “Believe” makes “Ronnie believers” out of all of us. The CMA agreed, awarding “Believe” the Single, Song, and Video of the Year in 2006.