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The group’s members were originally part of country pop singer Don King’s road band. When King stopped touring in 1981, the group decided to stay together and played up to five sets a night, six days a week, until they auditioned for the TV show Star Search in 1983. They auditioned just to get the videotape to promote the band, yet ended up winning the $100,000 grand prize and record contract.
The band originally chose the name Savanna. When another band with a similar name emerged, the group decided to change its own moniker. They met at their manager’s office in Nashville and began looking through area telephone books for inspiration. They blindly landed on the name of a nearby thoroughfare, Sawyer Brown Road, and derived the new band name “Sawyer Brown”.
The band scored a Top 20 hit with their first single, “Leona”, in 1984. That success was quickly followed by their first No. 1 hit, “Step That Step”. The band had their ups and downs on the charts throughout the 1980s, landing sporadic Top 10 hits. However, by 1990 they had accumulated enough hits for a Greatest Hits package, and were successful on the touring circuit.
In 1991, after the release of their album Buick, guitarist Bobby Randall left the group to remain close to his family and host a short-lived TV talent show, Be A Star. Duncan Cameron, formerly of The Amazing Rhythm Aces, was chosen as his replacement just as Sawyer Brown was about to become country music’s “it” band. The band then released the albums The Dirt Road, Café On The Corner, and Outskirts Of Town, which saw hit after hit for the band in the early to mid-’90s.
Following “The Walk”, the band scored a number of Top 5 and Top 10 hits, including 2 more Billboard No. 1s with 1992’s “Some Girls Do“, and 1993’s “Thank God for You“. By 1995 Sawyer Brown had enough hits for a second Greatest Hits package. The album, titled “Greatest Hits 1990 to 1995”, included two new singles, “This Time” and “I Don’t Believe in Goodbye”, which themselves became Top 5 hits.
In 2004 Duncan Cameron decided to leave the group to pursue a lifelong dream of flying for Southwest Airlines. Guitarist Shayne Hill replaced Duncan’s post as guitarist and the group has remained the same ever since.
Sawyer Brown has released twenty studio albums, of which three have been certified gold in the United States for sales of 500,000 copies. More than fifty of their singles have entered the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including three Number One singles. Sawyer Brown also received a Horizon Award from the Country Music Association in 1985, as well as a Vocal Group of the Year award in 1997 from the Academy of Country Music and five Vocal Band of The Year Awards from the TNN Music City News Country Awards.
Sawyer Brown wrote “The Nebraska Song” in honor of Brook Berringer, a Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback who died in a plane crash on April 18, 1996. (The song was actually written before his death.) The song appears on the group’s album Six Days on the Road. Mark Miller also served as a pallbearer at Berringer’s funeral.