Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Class of '89

Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt: the vaunted class of '89. What a difference 20 years makes. Dozens of chart hits and millions of records sold later, only Jackson, whose home is pictured here for no other reason than my cousin was in town last week and took a bus tour of stars' homes, is still a regular on the radio. (Jackson, not my cousin. She's never been on the radio that I know of.)

Black is better known these days for his recent run on "Celebrity Apprentice" while Tritt has kept a low profile since his label folded in 2007. Brooks meanwhile, continues to do his best Brett Favre impression, popping in and out of retirement.

But the Fantastic Four had a quite a run in their heyday and I sometimes wonder whether lightning will strike twice. The fact that singles take longer to develop these days makes the chances of four future superstar acts hitting in the same year tough to imagine. 

The other thing working against today's new artists is timing. The late 80s and early 90s represented a period of unprecedented change away from country's old guard. While Black, Brooks, Jackson, Tritt and others were coming in, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and many more were on their way out, at least when it came to radio play.

I've long held that progressive artists like Foster & Lloyd, the Desert Rose Band, New Grass Revival and Lyle Lovett, just to name a few, paved the way for the Class of '89 by cleansing country's palette, if you will. But that's another story. Or book.

Speaking of books, my friend Patsi Bale Cox has written a book about Brooks called "The Garth Factor," which comes out May 28. Buy a copy. I'm going to.

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't help when country radio turns its back on a major artist like the Dixie Chicks. Nor does it help when it takes the format FIVE albums to take an artist like Kenny Chesney to superstar status.