When Luke Bryan took the stage at the Country Music Hall of Fame to honor Brooks & Dunn prior to their induction, it was a bit of a full circle moment. The 43-year-old grew up listening to their music, and being influenced by their lives and careers, which is why he was proud – and a bit nervous – to honor his heroes.
"I had so many chill bumps during sound check," Bryan recalled to PopCulture.com and other media. "I had to stop sound check and kind of regroup. But I was actually pretty calm when I was in the room in front of Brooks & Dunn. The beauty of, and the tricky thing is when you get asked to perform for a legend, and you might not know one particular song. Everybody else gobbled up all the songs that you really know, but every song that Brooks & Dunn, they could have gobbled them all up and I got the 25th pick, and I would've been able to just go out there and deliver the song. I didn't have to go rehearse."
Bryan played "Red Dirt Road," the title track of Brooks & Dunn's ninth studio album, and a song he performed frequently in the early years of his career. But more than the song he sang, Bryan was proud to pay tribute to two men who had so much impact on him personally as well as professionally.
"'Red Dirt Road' was in our set list for three or four years," Bryan said. "I just spent so many times on stage performing that, and it was just second nature for me. Doing it in front of them, and having the opportunity to share the stories of their personal impact ... I think Ronnie Dunn's voice might have had the biggest musical impact on me and my career.
"I spent most of my young days trying to emulate Ronnie Dunn," he added. "And so to move up here being such a fan, and then to have the personal connection when Kix, that I talked about on stage that night."
Bryan was happy to be part of the Hall of Fame induction, but it wasn't easy for him to get there. The event coincided with an annual charity event he hosts with his wife, Caroline, to benefit the Brett Boyer Foundation, in honor of their late niece.
"I'm like, 'Oh my God, I've got this big charity event. I'm not going to sleep for three nights,' and then the Country Music Hall of Fame asked me to be a part of the induction of my heroes," said the singer. "I'm like, 'I know I'm going to be a zombie. I'll have to figure it out, but yes I'll do it.' And so the fact that I got to be a part of that, I'll never forget it. Just looking down there at Kix and Ronnie, I never could have imagined being in that room 15 years ago. Those are things that you look back and certainly check a big box, checks a big box in my career."
Photo Credit: Getty / Frazer Harrison