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Top 10 Country Breakups

Thumbnail image for FlattScruggs.jpg
On this day in country music history, Bob Dylan brought about the dissolution of one of the most influential bluegrass bands of all time. Well, that might be an overstatement. Read on.

Top Ten Country Music Breakups

Flatt and Scruggs, 1969
On March 11, 1969, after 23 years playing together and 21 as a duo, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs called it quits. With numerous Top 10 singles and a Grand Ole Opry membership under their belts, the two raised the bluegrass genre to a level of popularity it had not previously enjoyed. But in the late 1960s, the duo began experimenting with more popular forms of music, covering Bob Dylan - their 1968 album Changin' Times featured five Dylan songs, 1969's Nashville Airplane featured four and the post-breakup release Final Fling, seven - and planning to collaborate with notable Dylan producer Bob Johnston. Scruggs, a decade Flatt's junior, was growing sick of playing bluegrass every night in its original form, while Flatt had come to resent their more modern direction. It all came to a head in 1969 and the two departed, Flatt forming a traditional bluegrass band, the Nashville Grass, and Scruggs assembling a progressive group, the Earl Scruggs Review.

To see these changes immortalized, one not only need listen to the musical directions each of these Foggy Mountain Boys undertook after the breakup; check out the shaggy hair featured in early photographs of the Earl Scruggs review, as well as the cover art of Scruggs and Flatt's last album, Lester Flatt scowling bitterly at a smiling Earl Scruggs.

Flatt Scruggs Final Fling.jpg

George Jones and Tammy Wynette, 1975

Tammy Wynette made a career of songs detailing the challenges of being a wife and mother like "Stand by Your Man," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," and "I Don't Wanna Play House," and fittingly so - she was married five times, and among other difficult relationships, she was from 1969 to 1975 married to country singer (and notorious abuser of alcohol, drugs and riding lawnmowers) George Jones. Though they divorced in 1975, in large part due to his alcoholism, the two continued to collaborate regularly until Wynette's death in the late 1990s.

Brooks & Dunn, 2010

Known for their high-energy live show, string of hits dating back to 1991 and popular - now immortal - line dance ("Boot Scootin' Boogie", 1991), Brooks & Dunn announced in summer 2009 that they would be breaking up amid rumors that Ronnie Dunn would be pursuing a solo career. After a barn-burner of a farewell tour, the two played their final show in Nashville on September 2, 2010.


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