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Brooks & Dunn Call It Quits

By this time next year, the most commercially successful duo in country music history may be a memory.

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, known since 1991 as Brooks & Dunn, announced Monday that they are parting ways after 10 studio albums, 20 No. 1 singles and 23 million albums sold in the United States. The duo will release a greatest hits album on Sept. 8, though, and Brooks & Dunn will spend some of 2010 on what is being called The Last Rodeo tour, so there will be ample time for bows and ovations.

On their official Web site, www.brooksanddunn.com, on Monday afternoon, a statement from the duo read, "After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it's time to 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."

While one celebrity news television program's Web site quoted an unidentified source as saying Dunn had "had it with the group," the statement from Brooks & Dunn said, "If you hear rumors, don't believe them, it's just time."

Brooks & Dunn scored 41 top 10 country singles, more than any other country duo or group. And it triumphed 14 times in the Country Music Association's duo of the year race.

"These guys together have been an impressive force in music, both creatively and commercially," said Wade Jessen, the senior chart manager for Billboard in Nashville. "I think that will continue to be the case, separately. They're two monster talents, and they made this last for two decades. I'd be inclined to go out on top, too."

History in the making

Brooks broke into Nashville as a songwriter in the 1980s, scoring hits by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Conlee and others, but he yearned for a career as a recording artist. Producer Tim DuBois introduced him to Dunn in 1990, and, after a bumpy start, the two began recording what would turn out to be a smash album, 1991's "Brand New Man."

Numerous hits followed, including "Neon Moon," ''Boot Scootin' Boogie," ''You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," ''Only In America" and many others, and the duo's rollicking tour appearances became staples of each country music summer.

Georgia-based duo Sugarland usurped Brooks & Dunn as the CMA's top duo, winning in 2007 and 2008, but Brooks & Dunn remained popular in concert and with radio programmers.

"I opened shows for them on tour, and I always went out and watched their show," country artist Jack Ingram said. "In concert, you realized what a part of the musical landscape they are. I mean, every single song they played was a hit, and you knew every word."

Were Brooks & Dunn to continue on, they would likely continue to pack amphitheaters and continue as a radio force.

"Hey, it's not like they're dying," Ingram said. "And it's not like they're going to stop singing. I'm sure they'll stay in music. Plus, even though there was all that glitz and glory, I always got the feeling that they were in it for the right reasons. Part of being in it for the right reasons is not staying in it for the wrong reasons."

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