Brooks & Dunn, Stevens, Bradley named to Country Hall of Fame
HomeNewsInterviewsCD ReleasesCD ReviewsConcertsArtistsArchive

Brooks & Dunn, Stevens, Bradley named to Country Hall of Fame

Monday, March 18, 2019 – Brooks & Dunn, Ray Stevens and Jerry Bradley will join the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was announced today,

Bradley, head of RCA Records for a decade, will be inducted in the "Non-Performer" category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with the "Recording and/or Touring Musician" and "Songwriter" categories. Brooks & Dunn will be inducted in the "Modern Era Artist" category, and Stevens will be inducted in the "Veterans Era Artist" category.

"One of my favorite days of the year is when I get to tell the new class they are being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "This is the highest achievement in country music, and I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Jerry, Brooks & Dunn and Ray into the distinguished group and honor this incredible career milestone."

"It's really hard to put into words how it feels to hear you're going into the Country Music Hall of Fame," said Kix Brooks. "When you're a huge fan of country music, there's nothing more humbling. My idols are on that wall in there - Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings - so to think that Ronnie and I are going to be placed beside those guys is probably one of the coolest things I could ever imagine happening. I'm not sure I'll ever consider myself a peer because it's not something that you think about...I just never even dreamed quite that big."

"This means so much to us and I will be honored to accept it, but I still don't think I'm ever gonna be able to believe it!" added Ronnie Dunn.

"I am surprised and emotional knowing that I'll be joining my dad and uncle in the Hall," said Bradley. "I was glad that Sarah Trahern and Tom Collins came to my house to bring me the good news."

"I am seldom at a loss for words but when they told me I was going to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, I was thoroughly caught by surprise," said Stevens. "What a great honor to be included in the company of the people who are already members. When I heard the news, I was speechless and all I can say is, 'It don't get no better than this.'"

A formal induction ceremony for Bradley, Brooks & Dunn and Stevens will take place at the Country Music Hall of FameŽ and Museum in the CMA Theater later this year. Since 2007, the Museum's Medallion Ceremony, an annual reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.

"This year's class of inductees includes a visionary executive, a remarkable songwriter, producer, performer, and publisher, and the most-successful country music duo in history," said Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Chief Executive Officer. "Jerry Bradley, Ray Stevens, and Brooks & Dunn have earned country music's highest honor. It has been my privilege to watch and listen as they forged indelible marks."

Bradley headed RCA Records from 1973 to 1982. During his tenure, Ronnie Milsap, Dolly Parton and Jerry Reed achieved pop-crossover stardom, and Elvis Presley returned to making hits. Bradley signed Milsap to RCA and Alabama. He oversaw the creation of country's first Platinum-certified album, "Wanted! The Outlaws," ushering in an entire era of country with its stars Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser leading an "outlaw" movement.

As a producer, Bradley worked with Eddy Arnold, Floyd Cramer, Charley Pride and Dottie West. He was a longtime board member of the Country Music Association and CMA Board President in 1975. Bradley's father was Country Music Hall of Fame member Owen Bradley. Jerry's uncle was Country Music Hall of Fame member Harold Bradley, a member of the fabled "A-Team" of session musicians.

Born in 1940, Bradley was educated in Nashville and served in the Army from 1960 to 1962. Following his discharge, Jerry told his father he'd like to join him in the music business. Owen taught him audio engineering skills at Bradley's Barn studio beginning in 1965. With his uncle Harold, Jerry launched the family's Forrest Hills Music publishing company. But Bradley was keen to establish his own Music Row identity. In 1970, he became the assistant to legendary RCA chief, producer and guitarist Chet Atkins, another member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Bradley assumed the label's administrative and business tasks so that Atkins could concentrate on music. He arrived at the company just as Atkins protégée Reed achieved the pop-crossover hits "Amos Moses" (1970) and "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (1971). In 1973, Bradley became the head of RCA's Nashville operation. Under his leadership, the label became one of the first in Nashville to achieve autonomy from New York. This meant that he and his successors were free to sign artists, design album graphics and create marketing materials without oversight.

Presley returned to the country spotlight in the mid-1970s with "I've Got a Thing About You Baby," "Help Me," "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and more.

Brooks & Dunn have 60 charted singles, more than 40 Top 10 hits, 20 number 1s and 12 Platinum-plus albums. Named CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1996, Brooks & Dunn are the most awarded CMA duo of all time. Hits inclde "Neon Moon," "Believe," "Boot Scootin' Boogie," "Play Something Country" and "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)."

The act was forged by Arista Records executive Tim DuBois. Brooks and Dunn were both eager to join the label's roster in 1990. DuBois suggested that the solo artists join forces. At the time, Brooks had the longer Music Row pedigree. During the 1980s, he was well known as a hit songwriter.

Born Leon Eric Brooks III in 1955, he is a native of Shreveport, La.. He acquired his nickname while still in the womb. Brooks was playing guitar by age six, performing onstage by 12 and writing songs by 14. His college roommate was future BMI executive Jody Williams, who urged him to move to Nashville in 1979. Brooks' subsequent songwriting successes include his co-written "I'm Only in It for the Love" for John Conlee (1983), "Modern Day Romance" for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1985) and "Who's Lonely Now" for Highway 101 (1989). As a solo recording artist, he grazed the country charts with "Baby When Your Heart Breaks Down" (1983) and "Sacred Ground" (1989). In 1986, he co-wrote Nashville's official city song "I Still Hear the Music of Nashville."

Dunn was becoming a regional honky-tonk star in Texas and Oklahoma. Born in Texas in 1953, he originally performed in his father's country band. He was a gospel artist while attending college in Abilene. His performances in Tulsa nightclubs led music mogul Jim Halsey to sign him to his Churchill label in 1981. Dunn first appeared on the charts in 1983 with "It's Written All Over Your Face" and, the next year, "She Put the Sad in All His Songs." Although he wrote neither song, he was blossoming as a songwriter at the time with "Boot Scootin' Boogie," among other compositions. He won the Marlboro Country Talent Search in 1988.

Arista started a country division with DuBois at the helm. He knew both Dunn and Brooks and suggested that they write songs together. Meanwhile, Asleep at the Wheel recorded Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie" for their 1990 Arista album "Keepin' Me Up Nights." When Dunn and Brooks came up with "Brand New Man" (with collaborator Don Cook), DuBois urged them to join forces as an Arista act. Although each had solo aspirations and didn't know one another well, they agreed to become a team.

Brooks & Dunn became overnight stars with the 1991 release of "Brand New Man" and "My Next Broken Heart." Dunn's searing performance of his self-written "Neon Moon" cemented the new act's stardom in 1992. The duo's recording of "Boot Scootin' Boogie" became a country dance club sensation. The team earned the first of 14 CMA Vocal Duo of the Year awards that fall.

The following year, Brooks & Dunn won their first Grammy with "Hard Workin' Man." "She Used to Be Mine" hit the top in 1993. "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)," "That Ain't No Way to Go" and "She's Not the Cheatin' Kind" continued the duo's hit streak in 1994.

"Little Miss Honky Tonk" and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" both hit number 1 in 1995. The 1996 smash "My Maria" became the biggest country hit of the year and earned the team a second Grammy. Brooks & Dunn capped 1996 with the CMA Entertainer of the Year honor. Hits such as "A Man This Lonely" (1997), the Reba McEntire collaboration "If You See Him" (1998), "How Long Gone" (1998) and "Husbands and Wives" (1998) buoyed the duo to the end of the decade. In 2001, "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You" became the year's biggest country single.

In 2006, Brooks became the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "American Country Countdown," having taken home CMA and ACM awards for his hosting duties

=The duo announced their retirement in 2010, with a final performance benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, before reuniting in 2015.

In 2014, the duo announced their reunion along with long-time friend, McEntire, for a residency called "Together in Vegas" at The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, which received rave reviews and continues to be extended with more shows throughout this year. Brooks & Dunn recently announced their upcoming collaboration album Reboot. Available on April 5, the 12-track release will see the duo team up with Kane Brown, Thomas Rhett, Brett Young, LANCO, Ashley McBryde, Brothers Osborne, Luke Combs, Midland, Cody Johnson, Jon Pardi, Tyler Booth and Kacey Musgraves on re-ignited versions of Brooks & Dunn's biggest hits.

During his six decades in the music business, Stevens has been a session musician, a TV celebrity, a song publisher, a singer, a record producer, a real-estate magnate, a label owner, a nightclub entrepreneur, a music arranger, a video director, a studio builder, a pop-music hit maker, a comic, a gospel artist and a country star. Stevens is renowned for recording novelties like "The Streak" as well as serious fare such as "Everything Is Beautiful." He was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980.

Born Harold Ray Ragsdale in Georgia in 1939, Stevens was a piano player from the age of seven. He grew up in Albany, Georgia, where he formed his first band and became a teenage disc jockey. When he was 17, the family moved to Atlanta. He met his music mentor there, publisher/entrepreneur Bill Lowery. The mogul took him to Nashville to record and arranged a contract with Capitol Records. The company issued his self-composed teen tune "Silver Bracelet" with his "Ray Stevens" stage name in 1957. Stevens majored in music in college. But he truly received his education from Lowery. He worked as an instrumentalist, backup vocalist and producer on recording sessions for Lowery, in addition to making his own records.

Stevens next signed with Mercury Records. He moved to Nashville in early 1962 and hit the ground running as a session musician on Leroy Van Dyke's "Walk on By" and Joe Dowell's "Wooden Heart." Those hits were recorded on the same day. So was his own comedic smash "Ahab the Arab," which exploded on the pop charts later that year. He continued to record humorous, self-composed songs for Mercury for the next five years.

He also continued to work as a Music Row session musician. Stevens backed Brook Benton, Ronnie Dove, Brenda Lee, Patti Page, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, B.J. Thomas and hundreds of others. He began his stint on Monument Records in 1968 with serious material such as "Unwind" and the socially conscious "Mr. Businessman." Stevens also produced some of Dolly Parton's early recordings for the label.

Stevens made to the pop Top 10 with 1969's wacky "Gitarzan," but later that year introduced Kris Kristofferson's somber "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down." The latter song marked Stevens' debut on the country charts. When pop superstar Andy Williams went on hiatus from his network television show in the summer of 1970, Stevens was tapped to host a temporary replacement variety series. For its theme song, Stevens wrote "Everything is Beautiful." Released on Williams' Barnaby label, "Everything is Beautiful" became a number one pop smash. It also earned Stevens his first Grammy.

Released in 1974, "The Streak" topped both pop and Country hit parades and became a five-million-selling phenomenon. The following year, Stevens created an ear-tickling, bluegrass-jazz arrangement of the Johnny Mathis pop standard "Misty." It became his biggest country hit and earned him his second Grammy.

He continued to mix comic and serious songs during stints with Warner Bros. and RCA. But when he signed with MCA's country division in 1984, it was as a comedy act. Stevens emphasized his funny forte in the 1980s with such hits as his self-composed "Shriner's Convention" (1980) and the Kalb-penned "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" (1985). "I Need Your Help Barry Manilow" and "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex" earned him comedy Grammy nominations in 1980 and 1988, respectively.

n 1991, Stevens opened his own theater in Branson, Mo.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
AboutCopyrightNewsletterOur sister publication Standard Time
Subscribe to Country Music News Country News   Subscribe to Country Music CD Reviews CD Reviews   Follow us on  Twitter    Instagram    Facebook