Luke Bryan and Peach-Picker Co-Writers Toast Another No. 1

Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Ben Hayslip Still on a Roll

Wearing their signature baseball caps with the brims rolled and pulled down, songwriters Luke Bryan, Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip strolled into Nashville’s Cabana restaurant Monday afternoon (March 5) to accept a torrent of awards and compliments for their latest joint achievement, Bryan’s No. 1 single, “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”

The celebration was co-sponsored by the performance rights organizations BMI and ASCAP. Akins, Bryan and Davidson are BMI members. Hayslip is affiliated with ASCAP.

BMI’s Clay Bradley told the throng of music industry celebrants that “I Don’t Want This Night to End” has already sold 1.3 million copies and helped boost Bryan’s album, Tailgates & Tanlines, to platinum status.

Citing the song’s crowd-stirring power, Bradley added, “It re-energized me for the live concert experience.”

Akins, Bradley noted, was the recipient of the Country Music Association’s Triple Play award, an honor given to songwriters who score three No. 1 songs within a year. Davidson, he said, has had six No. 1’s during the same period.

Akins and Davidson are also BMI’s reigning country songwriters of the year. Hayslip holds the same title for ASCAP.

ASCAP’s Michael Martin took the stage to praise Hayslip’s lyrical achievements, among which are a total of five No. 1 songs and 12 ASCAP award-winning songs.

Several speakers commented on the remarkable success Akins, Davidson and Hayslip have achieved as a writing team. (All Georgians, they call themselves the Peach Pickers.)

Troy Tomlinson, of Sony/ATV Publishing, observed that only a few other such teams in Music Row history came close to matching the Peach Pickers.

He later told that he had in mind such songwriting pairsĀ as Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Jerry Foster and Bill Rice and Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet who dominated the charts from the ’50s through the ’80s.

“As of today,” said Ben Vaughn of EMI Music Publishing, “you’ll have to go back over four years to find a time that a Dallas Davidson or a Rhett Akins song wasn’t climbing the charts.”

Tapping into the line from “I Don’t Want This Night to End” that says “You’ve got your hands up,” Vaughn handed out giant foam rubber hands to the people onstage while an assistant passed them out to the crowd.

In his acceptance remarks, Hayslip called out the names of a dozen or more family members who stood in the crowd. He credited music publisher Rusty Gaston with providing him and his fellow writers the inspiration for the song being honored.

Davidson acknowledged his wife, Sarah Davidson, who is currently recording her debut album. He then presented Bryan with a custom-made fishing rod.

Akins lauded Bryan for his coolness and accessibility. He joked that watching Bryan’s fans respond to his performance was like watching a Metallica concert.

Bryan, who spoke last, singled out his wife for particular appreciation. “Thank you,” he told her, “for letting me be a 35-year-old kid every day.”

View photos from the No. 1 party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to