Brooks and DunnAn era comes to a close as Brooks & Dunn embark on their final trek together for The Last Rodeo tour in Marysville, Calif., tonight (April 23). Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who were put together 20 years ago by then-Arista label head Tim DuBois, never thought they would be partners for this long.

"The thought of having a 20 year career with this guy was impossible," says Kix. "There was no chance that was going to happen! The chance that we might get a record deal and might get to go record some songs, and possibly have some success, that's kind of what I was thinking of as best case scenario. Event to get to tour together seemed like kind of an outside shot ... and next thing we knew we had an opening gig with Steve Wariner."

When it came time to putting a band together for those few shows with Steve, the guys just picked up the phone and began dialing. "We just called some buddies," explains Ronnie. "I called a couple of Okie buddies, and he called a couple of his buddies from here, and we threw together a band. And I don't know what we rehearsed, maybe a couple of times, and [we] hit the road."

When they first hit the road, the guys did not have their own bus for quite some time, so they had to make do with what they were able to get -- most of them couldn't compare to a two-star hotel on wheels. "We would lease some one-offs, we would call them," recalls Ronnie. "So, if there was a show every other weekend it would be a different bus from a different company and we would get the least expensive one we could. And there was one that we had back then ... we had a driver, a young guy, and we were going to California and we were proud to have a bus and glad to be on it ... and the third gear was out on it. And every time he would change gears, you would get that [grinding noise], all night, all day. And I think the air conditioning was stuck on meat cooler. So, we all stopped and got sleeping bags, because you'd freeze to death in your bunk, and we slept in these sleeping bags for a year. And he turned us on Waffle Houses, so we'd stop at Waffle Houses, so we lived on Waffle Houses and that third gear out. We kinda got broke into the road that way."

The pair, who picked up their 16th ACM Duo of the Year award last week, said last summer when they announced they were dissolving their professional relationship, that it was just "time to do something different." Ronnie was quick to add, "We've had a good ride. It's been amicable. We've been good friends [and] still are."

The two, who are the subject of the upcoming CBS TV special 'ACM Presents: Brooks & Dunn -- The Last Rodeo,' are hitching their wagons together to criss-cross the country this summer, winding up with their very last show together in Nashville on Aug. 10. Jason Aldean and Gary Allan will open for the duo on select dates.

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