Kix Brooks is best known as one half of Brooks & Dunn, the most successful duo in the history of popular music. In Backstory: Kix Brooks, premiering December 27 at 9p|8c on GAC, viewers will learn the inside story of Kix – singer, songwriter, actor, wine maker, rancher and community leader. His wife Barbara, son Eric, manager, past and present record label heads, producers, friends and fellow songwriters will help paint a picture of the man who, after 30 years in Nashville, is busier than ever.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Kix lost his mother when he was four and his grandmother when he was seven. “Fortunately my dad and I were so close,” Kix said. “He was boisterous and fun, loved scotch and cigars.”
Kix was sent to military school at a young age. It was a move he believes likely saved his life. “It taught me all about discipline and being a man,” he said. “It was tough but at the same time, you got tough.” BMI Nashville chief Jody Williams was Kix’s military school roommate.
By the time he was in college, Kix had discovered the outlaw music movement and had steady work playing bar gigs. “I could make a hundred bucks a night banging my guitar in a bar so I had life figured out,” he said.
After graduation he moved to Maine to work at his sister and brother in law’s ad agency. There, he met future wife Barbara at a party and after a brief stint in New Orleans, he moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting and Barbara followed. Cuts by the Oak Ridge Boys, John Conlee and many others led to two separate failed solo record deals. That’s when then Arista label head Tim DuBois introduced him to Ronnie Dunn.
“Neither one of us really wanted to be a duo but we were in that place where we had failed record deals and here’s a guy offering to go into the studio and make a record,” Kix said. The duo went on to form Brooks & Dunn. Together, they produced 23 No. 1 hits, sold 30 million records and earned 80 major awards including four Entertainer of the Year trophies.
In 2005, Kix became the first artist to head the Country Music Association board and a year later, he was offered the hosting gig of ‘American Country Countdown.’ He also opened Arrington Vineyards, a destination vineyard south of Nashville, that same year.
Brooks & Dunn played their last tour in 2010. “Over 20 years we never had what you would consider a fight,” Kix said. “If we had kept going it might not have been as good and we might’ve screwed up something that we did a pretty good job of.”
Kix returned to the music scene as a solo artist in 2011 and recently released his solo project New To This Town. He also started a movie production company that already has four films completed. “A lot of people ask him what retirement’s like and he says ‘I wouldn’t know’ because he’s still making records, he’s got the vineyard, the radio show and he’s acting,” Eric, Kix’s son, said. “He’s busier now than he’s ever been and I think he couldn’t be happier.”