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June 30

Meet Sawyer Brown: The Hit Country-Pop Band of the ’90s

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Sawyer Brown has been around for four decades now, and they are one of the few bands who have been around this long. The five-piece band is still actively performing and never fails to deliver high energy performances that it has been known for. And since 1981, the band has released 18 studio albums with over 50 charting singles and three number one hits. And even though they haven’t released any new music in years, they had enough hits and a loyal following that kept the buses on the road. 

So, let’s take that tour bus back down the road – Sawyer Brown Road – and see where everything all started. 

How It All Started: From Sawyer Brown Road to a Hit-Filled Career

Sawyer Brown is a five-piece American country music band founded way back in 1991. In an interview with Scott Ross of CBN, the band’s frontman and rhythm guitarist Mark Miller recalled moving into Nashville with keyboard player Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard from Poplar, Florida, and setting the band up. The rest of the band – lead guitarist Bobby Randall, bassist Jim Scholten, and drummer Joe “Curly” Smyth – congregated after. Together, they did some studio work, made some rent money, and later on pursued a music career. 

The members originally grew out of country-pop singer Don King’s road band. When King stopped touring in 1981, the group decided to stay together. Their country-pop band name – Sawyer Brown – was actually a road in Bellevue, Tennessee, which they came up with after their first option, Savanna, was used by another band. After that, they spent the next two years on the road playing for up to five sets a night, six days a week. They also performed for a time at Knight’s Corral on Nolensville Road in Nashville as “Bobby, Mark, and Sandgap.”

In 1983, the band finally got their breakthrough. Their agent landed them an audition for the popular talent show ‘Star Search,’ where they won the grand prize worth $100,000. Not only that, but their win also made way for a recording contract deal with Liberty/Capitol Records in 1984. A year later, they released their self-titled debut album, with their debut single “Leona” climbing to the Top 20. And then its follow-up single “Step That Step” earned them their first number one hit. Throughout the ’80s, the band enjoyed a road filled with slumps and occasional highs. 

In 1991, Sawyer Brown parted ways with Liberty after releasing their album “Buick.” The band signed with Curb and welcomed a new member Duncan Cameron who would be replacing guitarist Randall. Their first album with Curb, “The Dirt Road,” produced their second number one hit, “Some Girls Do.”

Then in 1992, the band released their critically acclaimed “Cafe on the Corner,” which gave them three Top Five hits. And a year later, they got their third number one hit with “Thank God for You.”

The band’s success in the early ’90s was attributed to singer-songwriter Mac McAnnally whose ballads helped redefine Sawyer Brown from a “bubble gum” pop act to one of the biggest country-pop of the ’90s. But by the late ’90s, Sawyer Brown songs gradually faded out of country radio and didn’t receive much success then, even with their 1999 crossover hit “Drive Me Wild.”

In 2003, they left Curb Records and signed with Lyric Street Records only to come back after releasing only one single. And in 2004, they welcomed Shayne Williams, who replaced Duncan Cameron and stayed as the band’s lead guitarist up until now. The band released new songs until 2015 and their “All Time Greatest Hits” album in 2017.

Who are the members of Sawyer Brown?

The original members of the group when they started in 1981 were frontman and rhythm guitarist Mark Miller, keyboard player Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard, lead guitarist Bobby Randall, bassist Jim Scholten, and drummer Joe “Curly” Smyth. 

Mark Miller was credited for the group’s founding and was often confused as “Sawyer Brown.” And aside from the band, he was also a Grammy and Dove award-winning producer for Casting Crowns that he signed to his own record label, Beach Street Records. 

The band stayed together for a decade until 1991, when Randall decided to leave the group to host the TV talent show “You Can Be a Star.” He was then replaced by Duncan Cameron, a former member of the American country-rock band Amazing Rhythm Aces. Cameron played with the band for 14 years until he left in 2004 to pursue his lifelong dream of being a pilot for Southwest Airlines. He was then replaced by Shayne Williams, who is now the band’s lead guitarist. 

Where are the members of Sawyer Brown now? 

Well, they’re still actively performing and touring around with the same level of energy as they used to way back in 1981. This 2021, the band’s schedule is packed with tour dates and concerts. They’re set to perform their renowned ’80s and ’90s country-pop music on August 7 at the Klamath County Fair inside John Hancock Event Center. And on September 17, they will grace the stage of the 2021 Oklahoma State Fair with artists like The Oak Ridge Boys, Jackyl, Ginuwine, and more. 

And if you want to catch them on tour, you can check out their schedule on their official website. Sawyer Brown will be performing soon in Sharpsburg, Kentucky, on July 3 and will be out until December 10 this year. They are also updating their 2022 tour schedule, so stay tuned!


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