Luke Bryan was a teenager when Brooks & Dunn burst onto the country music scene in 1991, with their freshman Brand New Man album. Several years later, Bryan pursued his own career in country music, which was in its early stages when Bryan's sister, Kelly, unexpectedly passed away in 2007. The Georgia native returned to work, doing a radio tour to promote his freshman I'll Stay Me album, when he received an unexpected phone call from Brooks & Dunn's Kix Brooks.
"Right when I started having some success, I had written a No. 1 and I lost my sister," Bryan shared before performing "Red Dirt Road" at Brooks & Dunn's Country Music Hall of Fame induction. "My sister passed away. And I was out on my radio tour on a Southwest flight probably on with the C [section] ... I'm on the plane and I see a number on my phone that I don't recognize.
"I picked it up and it was Kix Brooks on the phone, just telling me he was sorry about our loss," he added. "I never will forget it. What an amazing gesture. I hung the phone up and called my whole family and we were just amazed at that gesture."
Bryan also recounted a personal connection with Brooks' partner, Ronnie Dunn, later in his career.
"A few years after that, I get going, and I'm out on the road and I'm losing my voice every night. I can't sing," Bryan recalled. "I called our buddy, [Live Nation CEO Brian O'Connell], and I said, 'Brian, I need some advice from a singer of some sort.' And he goes, 'Well, you want me to get Ronnie on the phone?' I said, 'Ronnie Dunn?' He goes, 'Yeah, he'll talk to you.' And I called Ronnie in south Florida and he spent 35 minutes on the phone with me telling me probably what I was doing wrong and what else do it right.
"That's what country music is all about," Bryan continued. "It's just what it's all about. And I just can't thank you guys enough for those moments. It's an honor to be here."
Bryan, who admitted he was shaking even in sound check prior to his performance, was one of three artists who paid tribute to Brooks & Dunn in song. Brothers Osborne sang "Brand New Man," while Trisha Yearwood sang "Believe."
Brooks & Dunn were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame by Reba McEntire. Jerry Bradley and Ray Stevens were also inducted.
Photo Credit: Getty / Frazer Harrison