Brooks & Dunn Open Their Star Pads

Celebrities are often viewed as being larger than life, so most of us prefer to think famous people live large, too. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are living large, but their lifestyles are downright sublime when contrasted with some of the country superstars of the past.

Both members of the duo open their homes — and lives — during the CMT’s Star Pads: Brooks & Dunn, which premieres Saturday (Dec. 7) at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. Brooks resides in a 9,000 square-foot French colonial-inspired house, while Dunn owns a 12,000 square-foot Georgian-styled home. Both have barns that would qualify as spacious and luxurious housing for just about anyone whose name isn’t Bill Gates, but it’s clear that today’s breed of country performers has come a long way from the garish excesses exhibited by some of country stars of the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

Most of today’s celebrities place a high priority on their privacy, but that wasn’t the case for the late Webb Pierce . After the money started rolling in from his honky-tonk hits of the ‘50s, Pierce bought a house on Curtiswood Lane, a tony Nashville neighborhood that includes the Tennessee governor’s mansion. For years, Pierce’s house was on the route for busloads of tourists who were mesmerized by the singer’s swimming pool — a $35,000 cement pond that was shaped like a guitar. The tour buses later ceased stopping at Pierce’s house after neighbors complained of the heavy traffic along the narrow street.

Pierce wore flashy rhinestone suits fashioned by the Hollywood-based Nudie the Rodeo Tailor, who counted Porter Wagoner , Ferlin Husky and Gene Autry among his clients. Pierce took the flashy lifestyle a step farther by buying a 1962 Pontiac convertible and have it customized with silver dollars, steer horns, gun handles and leather. Compared to Pierce’s one-of-a-kind Pontiac, Brooks’ yellow Ferrari seems like basic transportation.

During the Star Pads interviews with CMT’s Katie Cook, both Brooks and Dunn prove to have sophisticated tastes when it comes to home design and artwork. Showing a canvas from a Russian impressionist painter, Dunn says, “When I brought it in, I was amazed. I thought it was western art. It looks like a little cowboy town with the cattle. … Actually, it’s a Russian cattle drive and they’re taking the herd through the town.” Brooks, who is enamored of western art, says, “I think you’d be hard pressed to find many musicians or songwriters that aren’t drawn to art, as well.”

Brooks and Dunn also show off their home recording studios. Dunn’s is located in his favorite part of his property — the barn. “I bring songwriters out here and we write all the time,” he says. “It’s just a good vibe.” While the barn is a showplace, it’s not exactly a state-of-the-art studio. “It’s not built like a studio or insulated,” he explains. “Even on some of the records we cut — “There Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You” — I was singing and a jet flew over. In the headphones, if you isolate to the vocal track, you can hear the plane going over. It drives engineers crazy.”

Star Pads reveals a lifestyle that will serve to inspire others who pick up a guitar and begin dreaming of stardom. And if Brooks owns a custom-made Gibson Les Paul guitar with an alligator carved into the top, neither of them have a swimming pool that’s shaped like a musical instrument. Judging from his sense of humor, however, you wonder why Brooks hasn’t ordered a custom made guitar that’s shaped like a swimming pool.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.