January 1st, 2003


Big Kenny Alpin, already $140,000 in debt, loses most of his last $200 playing black jack in a Las Vegas casino. He gives the dealer a $20 tip, leaving himself with just one buck. The event inspires him to write a future Tim McGraw hit, "Last Dollar (Fly Away)".

Soon after, Alpin would begin writing with former Lonestar bassist/vocalist John Rich. The pair would found the MuzikMafia (an abbreviation for Musically Artistic Friends in Alliance),a roundtable aggregation of singer-songwriters including Cowboy Troy, James Otto, Gretchen Wilson and Shannon Lawson. This group held its first official show at a Nashville, Tennessee nightclub in 2001.

Among Big Kenny and John Rich's first outside cuts as songwriters was "Amarillo Sky", which was the title track to McBride & the Ride's 2002 album Amarillo Sky and later a top 5 hit for Jason Aldean in 2007.The two also wrote and sang backing vocals on "She's a Butterfly", which was recorded by Martina McBride on her album Martina.

Big & Rich
photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

After McBride cut this song, manager Marc Oswald suggested that Rich and Big Kenny begin recording as a duo. Rich was apprehensive at first, as he had been told by BNA staff that he was "too rock for country" and was unsure of what major labels would think of Big Kenny's rock influences.

The two began recording songs together at a songwriting seminar. After they recorded a demo of "Holy Water", Rich was convinced that the duo would be successful. They then met with Paul Worley, a record producer who was then the head of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Records Nashville, and Worley helped sign Big & Rich to a recording contract in late 2003.

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    Eight years after their last show together, The Judds usher in the new millennium with a reunion show at the America West Arena in Phoenix, with Ashley Judd hosting. First song in the set: "Love Can Build A Bridge"

  • photo by Hulton Archive//Getty Images
    photo by Hulton Archive//Getty Images

    Singer Rick Nelson dies in a plane crash outside of DeKalb, Texas. A TV star on "The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet," he crossed between pop and country.

  • photo by Monty Fresco/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
    photo by Monty Fresco/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


    Roy Rogers marries Dale Evans at the Flying L Ranch in Murray County, Oklahoma. Rogers is late for the ceremony, delayed when he puts out a fire started by a cigarette butt in another room.

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    #1 On This Date


    2011 – Reba McEntire – “Turn On The Radio

    2005 – Blake Shelton – “Some Beach

    2000 – Faith Hill – “Breathe

    1994 – Faith Hill – “Wild One

    1983 – John Anderson – “Wild And Blue

    1977 – Emmylou Harris – “Sweet Dreams

    1972 – Charley Pride – “Kiss An Angel Good Morning

    1966 – Buck Owens & The Buckaroos – “Buckaroo

    1955 – Webb Pierce – “More And More

    1949 – Eddy Arnold – “A Heart Full Of Love (For A Handful Of Kisses)



    2011 – Taylor Swift – Speak Now

    2005 – Shania Twain – Greatest Hits

    2000 – Shania Twain – Come On Over

    1994 – Common Thread: The Songs Of The Eagles

    1982 – Alabama – Mountain Music

    1977 – Waylon Jennings – Are You Ready For The Country

    1972 – Charley Pride – Heart Songs

    1966 – Connie Smith – Cute ‘n’ Country

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    Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. is born in Roswell, New Mexico on this date in 1944. As John Denver, he straddles pop and country music in the mid-1970s, making him a controversial winner of the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award for 1975. Denver would pass away October 12, 1997, when the experimental aircraft he was piloting crashed into the ocean off of the central California coast. Denver was 53.

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