With Mexican food and margaritas on the tables and a mirror-plated bull's head logo revolving overhead, hundreds of friends and associates cheered Brooks & Dunn Wednesday (July 21) for having reached the 25-million mark in album sales. The high-spirited celebration took place in a cavernous party room a few blocks off Nashville's Music Row.
"These are two of the best people I've worked with in my 33 years in the business," enthused Joe Galante, chairman of the RCA Label Group, after he summoned the duo to the wide stage at the front of the room. A sign at the back of the stage declared, "B&D 25 Million." A huge American flag, with bull's heads in place of stars, hung at one side of the room.
Certain of the partygoers were handed red wristbands as they checked into the event and told to hang onto them for "something special" later in the celebration. Most of the people in the crowd were those who had worked with or for Brooks & Dunn in various ways. Among them were their past and present producers, including Mark Wright, Don Cook and Scott Hendricks. Also mingling and munching were Grand Ole Opry manager Pete Fisher, Country Music Hall of Fame chief Kyle Young and singer-songwriter Terry McBride, formerly of McBride & The Ride.
Galante explained to the crowd that it had taken some time to pull the party together and that by now Brooks & Dunn's album sales were really around 27 million. Then he introduced a short film that illustrated the highlights of the pair's history. With the artists standing beside him, Galante unveiled two gigantic plaques that had "B&D 25 Million" imprinted over a list of all the act's album titles.
"My wife is in Florida -- this is so important to her," Dunn joked. He said she makes him keep most of his trophies in the barn. "This is one thing," he promised, "she's going to have to put up with in the bedroom." Brooks was equally self-deprecating, even as he praised the many others who had furthered B&D's career. "We'll never believe that 25 million records got sold because our music was that good," he drawled. Then, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart, he said, "I know my career would be this big without you."
Galante said Brooks had once remarked that record companies "don't pay artists -- they give them Cadillacs." That's not quite true, he said, asserting he knew that the label had paid them "some money." There would be no Cadillacs given away this evening, he continued. But he reassured the honorees that the label had found something for them. At that moment, the curtains at the back of the stage parted, and the blonde Coors Light Twins drove in on two identical red Yamaha ATVs. (The twins -- sisters Diane and Elaine Klimaszewski -- also appeared in B&D's music video, "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl.")
After the ATV presentation was over, the celebrants were told that those with the red wristbands also had something waiting for them. With that, the American flag descended to reveal a wall filled with plaques that were identical -- except in size -- to the two still standing on stage. Each one was engraved with the name of the recipient. Approximately 265 people had been singled out for their contributions to B&D success -- and now had the memorabilia to prove it.
A music executive who had just rushed over from Gretchen Wilson's double-platinum party (for 2 million album sales) exclaimed, "It's beginning to feel like the '90s again."
To view photos from the party, visit Brooks & Dunn's artist page at CMT.com.