One of those rare acts who actually became stars directly from winning Star Search, country-rockers Sawyer Brown wound up enjoying a long, hit-filled career and have remained commercially viable into the new millennium. The group originally grew out of country-pop singer Don King’s touring band, with drummer Joe Smyth, bassist Jim Scholten, keyboardist Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard, and guitarist/future lead singer Mark Miller. King stopped touring in 1981, and the group decided to stay together, naming themselves after the Nashville street where they rehearsed. They spent the next two years on the road, and their agent landed them an audition for the popular syndicated talent show Star Search. Sawyer Brown won the grand prize of 100,000 dollars in 1983, and it wasn’t long before Liberty/Capitol signed them up in 1984. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1985, and their debut single, “Leona,” climbed into the Top 20; its follow-up, “Step That Step,” went all the way to number one, and the album fell one spot short of that same position. Their sophomore album, Shakin’, was another hit, producing the Top Five single “Betty’s Bein’ Bad.” They have had a succession of hits throughout the 1990’s. The latest addition to Sawyer Brown is lead guitarist Shayne Hill, who joined the band in 2004.
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