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The Country Classic Flashback Features The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band [VIDEO]

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Each Wednesday we take a walk down memory lane to highlight a classic country artist or group.  This week we’re featuring the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

These guys got their start in 1966 out in Long Beach, California with Jeff Hanna and Brian Kunkel.  Prior to becoming the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band they called themselves the New Coast Two and the Illegitimate Jug Band.  According to their website they were trying to “figure out how not to have to work for a living.”

As they were starting out they met up with rock artist Jackson Browne.  Together, along with a few other guys, they formed a jug band and performed wearing pinstripe suits and cowboy boots.

The released their debut album in 1967 and it made the Top 40.  They also got out there and performed on Johnny Carson.  They also did shows with Jack Benny and The Doors. Their next few albums seemed to flop but they were still playing venues like Carnegie Hall and opening for Bill Cosby and Aerosmith.

They went to Nashville in the late 1970’s but it took until the early 1980’s for them to find success with songs such as Modern Day Romance, Dance Little Jean and Fishin’ In The Dark.  Performances were huge for them in the 1980’s as well.  They played at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the first ever Farm Aid concert.

Not that they needed it but in 1992 they got a little publicity help from former President George H.W. Bush when he referred to them as the “Nitty Ditty Nitty Gritty Great Bird” at a country music awards ceremony.  The band continues to tour, record new music and some of the band member’s children have followed in their footsteps.  Jeff Hanna and John McEuen’s boys, Jaime and Jonathan, formed the duo Hanna McEuen.

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