Country Music in the 1990s: A Look Back at the Biggest Artists, Moments + More
Jelly sandals, JNCO jeans, Doc Martens, slap bracelets and scrunchies -- those are just a few memorable trends of the 1990s. And while a lot of those fashion choices are best laid to rest, there's plenty of country music from the decade that we never want to let go.
Because the decade brought a unique and new pop-country sound to Nashville, some may consider the ‘90s to be the time of traditional country’s last gasp ... but there’s so much more to the music of this decade than meets the eye. Read on to learn about some of the decades biggest moments, artists, songs and more.
Country Music Milestones of the 1990s
Jan. 19, 1990: Reba McEntire makes her movie debut in Tremors. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Michael Gross, and is about residents in a small town who are forced to defend themselves against underground creatures that are trying to kill them off.
Jan. 23, 1990: Clint Black's Killin' Time becomes his first platinum album. The disc was Black's debut record.
Feb. 27, 1990: Alan Jackson releases his debut album, Here in the Real World. The disc spawned four Top 5 singles.
March 3, 1990: The Highwaymen launch their first concert tour. The trek's lead show took place at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Oct. 6, 1990: Garth Brooks joins the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted by legend Johnny Russell.
Oct. 22, 1990: Tim McGraw signs with Curb Records. He was 23 years old at the time.
March 9, 1991: Alan Jackson's "I'd Love You All Over Again" becomes his first No. 1 hit. He wrote "I'd Love You All Over Again" for his wife Denise, for their 10th wedding anniversary.
March 16, 1991: Seven of Reba McEntire's band members, as well as her tour manager, die in a plane crash. The aircraft was en route from a private concert that McEntire had played just a few hours earlier in San Diego, Calif. McEntire, her then-husband Narvel Blackstock and her stylist Sandy Spika had opted to spend the night in California; a second plane carrying two more of McEntire's band members traveled safely.
April 9, 1991: Patty Loveless' 1988 album, Honky Tonk Angel, goes gold. The project was Loveless' third, and her first to go gold.
April 24, 1991: Garth Brooks wins a record six times at the ACM Awards. He now shares his one-night ACM Awards wins record with Faith Hill and Chris Stapleton, who each won six trophies in 1999 and 2016, respectively.
June 7, 1991: Alan Jackson is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. He received the honor just one month after his sophomore album, Don't Rock the Jukebox, was released.
July 2, 1991: Trisha Yearwood releases her debut album. The self-titled project contains a number of hit singles.
Aug. 10, 1991: Vince Gill joins the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted by Roy Acuff.
Sept. 4, 1991: Dottie West dies, at the age of 58, due to injuries sustained in a car crash on Aug. 30. Although West originally did not seem injured, she suffered both a ruptured spleen and a lacerated liver, and she died during her third operation, after receiving 30 units of blood in an attempt to save her life.
Oct. 24, 1991: Garth Brooks' No Fences is certified five-times platinum. At the time, that was the highest sales ever for a country artist.
Dec. 4, 1991: The Judds play their final concert. The mother-daughter duo was forced to call it quits after Naomi Judd was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a liver disease that brought their musical career to an abrupt end, in 1990.
Dec. 8, 1991: Roy Acuff is recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors. He was the first country star to be awarded the honor.
Jan. 15, 1992: Johnny Cash joins the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lyle Lovett inducted Cash during 1992's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, explaining that the country icon "helped show the world what happens when rural sensibilities and values mix with an urban environment."
Feb. 29, 1992: Travis Tritt is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. The invitation was a pleasant surprise to Tritt, who never imagined joining the revered organization.
April 11, 1992: Wynonna Judd's debut solo single, "She Is His Only Need," hits No. 1. Her eponymous freshman album sold more than 5 million copies and spawned two more No. 1 singles, "I Saw the Light" and "No One Else on Earth."
May 30, 1992: Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" hits No. 1. His only No. 1 song to date, it stayed in the top spot for five weeks.
Sept. 5, 1992: Vince Gill earns his first No. 1 song. The song, "I Still Believe in You," was the debut single from and title track of his sixth studio album.
October 1992: George Strait stars in Pure Country. The movie opened at No. 6 the week of its release, earning $2,739,680 in its opening week, and took in just over $15 million in its theatrical run -- not a disaster, given its $10 million budget, but certainly not a career-launching vehicle, either.
Jan. 31, 1993: Garth Brooks sings the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Due to a dispute with NBC, however, the country superstar came close to not taking the stage at the very last minute.
February 1993: Toby Keith releases his debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy." The song became Keith's first No. 1 hit that June and comes from his debut album, released on April 20.
Feb. 2, 1993: Willie Nelson settles his debt with the IRS. Nelson had originally been slapped with an eye-popping $32 million back taxes bill in 1990; in total, Nelson paid $9 million.
April 20, 1993: Tim McGraw releases his debut album. The self-titled project didn't chart, but it did raise McGraw's profile -- and when he released his sophomore effort, Not a Moment Too Soon, less than a year later, country stardom beckoned.
May 1, 1993: Charley Pride joins the Grand Ole Opry. It was the second time that Opry officials had asked the artist to join the organization's ranks.
June 23, 1993: Brooks & Dunn's Brand New Man goes triple platinum. The record was released in 1991, and with its triple-platinum certification, Brooks & Dunn became the first country duo to hit that milestone.
June 30, 1993: Kenny Chesney signs his first record deal. The deal was with the newly opened country division of Capricorn Records, which shuttered following the release of Chesney's first album, 1994's In My Wildest Dreams.
Jan. 1, 1994: Faith Hill earns her first No. 1 hit. "Wild One" comes from her debut album, Take Me as I Am.
May 27, 1994: The Eagles reunite for their Hell Freezes Over Tour. Travis Tritt reunited the band for the music video for his cover of "Take It Easy" — recorded for an Eagles tribute album, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles — which spurred the reunion.
July 13, 1994: Garth Brooks performs "Hard Luck Woman" with KISS on The Tonight Show. Brooks recorded the song for a KISS tribute album, KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved.
Nov. 16, 1994: Garth Brooks' Ropin' the Wind goes diamond. Brooks was the first country artist to reach that sales feat.
Aug. 31, 1994: Clay Walker earns his first platinum album. Clay Walker, his self-titled debut album, features three No. 1 singles.
Sept. 19, 1995: Alt-country band Son Volt release their debut album, Trace. Their song "Drown" hit No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
Oct. 28, 1995: David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle" goes to No. 1. Until 2018, it was his only No. 1 song.
Nov. 30, 1995: Martina McBride joins the Grand Ole Opry. She was inducted into the Opry by Loretta Lynn.
March 2, 1996: "Wild Angels" becomes Martina McBride's first No. 1 song. The song was written by Matraca Berg, Gary Harrison and Harry Stinson.
May 11, 1996: Steve Wariner joins the Grand Ole Opry. He'd debuted on the Opry when he was just 17 years old and playing bass for Dottie West, who was already a member.
Nov. 5, 1996: Alt-country group Slobberbone drop their Doolittle Records debut album, Crow Pot Pie. The record shares its name with a 1994 self-released record from the band, but the songs are different.
Dec. 12, 1996: Clint Black earns a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He, at the time, had released five platinum-selling albums, including 1990's Put Yourself in My Shoes, which sold more than 3 million copies; he had also released 23 Top 10 singles, 10 of which landed at the top of the charts.
April 5, 1997: Trace Adkins' "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" hits No. 1. It was his first time at the top of the charts.
May 15, 1997: Bill Monroe is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His fellow inductees included Mahalia Jackson, the Bee Gees, the Jackson 5, Joni Mitchell and Buffalo Springfield.
June 7, 1997: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's first duet, "It's Your Love," reaches No. 1. The Grammy Awards-nominated tune held the top spot for six weeks, sold more than 2 million units and won multiple awards, including both the ACM and CMA for Vocal Event of the Year.
Aug. 30, 1997: Kenny Chesney scores his first No. 1 hit, "She's Got It All." Written by Craig Wiseman and Drew Womack, "She's Got It All" was released as the lead single from I Will Stand, Chesney's fourth studio album.
Nov. 4, 1997: Shania Twain releases Come on Over. The best-selling album of the 1990s, the record has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide to date and remains the biggest-selling studio album by a female artist of all time, the best-selling country music album ever, the biggest-selling album by a Canadian country artist and one of the best-selling albums in music history. On April 7, 1999, the album was certified diamond.
Nov. 17, 1997: Shania Twain's The Woman in Me is certified diamond, for sales of 10 million copies. It was the first record by a female artist to sell in excess of 10 million units.
Jan.. 27, 1998: The Dixie Chicks release their major-label debut album, Wide Open Spaces. The record has sold more than 12 million copies, setting the record for the best-selling duo or group album in country music history (in 1998, the year of the album's release, the Dixie Chicks sold more CDs than all other country music groups combined.)
March 16, 1998: LeAnn Rimes' debut single, "Blue," goes gold. She first recorded the song when she was only 11 years old.
Feb. 22, 1999: Brad Paisley releases his debut single, "Who Needs Pictures." The song is the title track of his freshman album.
March 6, 1999: Sara Evans earns her first No. 1 song. "No Place That Far" features harmonies from Vince Gill.
March 13, 1999: Trisha Yearwood joins the Grand Ole Opry. She's been invited to join in January of that year.
June 1, 1999: Brad Paisley releases his debut album, Who Needs Pictures. The disc was released via Arista Nashville.
Aug. 3, 1999: Patsy Cline earns a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The honor came more than a decade and a half after her death in a plane crash in March of 1963.
Sept. 11, 1999: Chely Wright's "Single White Female" hits No. 1. It was Wright's first time at the top of the charts.
Sept. 24, 1999: Lonestar's Lonely Grill goes platinum. All four of the record's singles hit the top of the charts, including the song "Amazed," which was a No. 1 hit on the pop charts as well.
Nov. 13, 1999: Garth Brooks hosts Saturday Night Live. His alter ego, Chris Gaines, served as the musical guest.
Nov. 25, 1999: LeAnn Rimes performs for Pope John Paul II. Her performance, of the song "I Believe in You," was part of a Thanksgiving Day concert.
The Best of Country Music in the 1990s
Top 10 Country Songs of the 1990s: Plenty of '90s country tunes will continue to be music to our ears for decades to come.
5 Ridiculously '90s Country Music Videos: From "Goodbye Earl" to "Boot Scootin' Boogie," these five music videos embody the '90s country vibe. Get ready to laugh at these now-vintage classics.
Top 10 Country Albums of the 1990s: Country music came into its own in a big way during the 1990s, courtesy of a mainstream musical climate that embraced the genre like never before.
Top 10 Country Artists of the 1990s: The 1990s were a seriously glorious time for country music: The hair was big, the sound was iconic, and artists such as Faith Hill and George Strait were tearing up the airwaves.
Country Music in the 1990s: Hear a Playlist
Loving the '90s is on-trend right now, but let's be honest: We've never stopped loving '90s country. This playlist of country classics from the decade could go on for-ev-er, if you ask us ... but, well, we had to stop somewhere. Invite your friends to "Come on Over," and get ready to feel like you "Should've Been a Cowboy" as you press play on these 100-plus country tunes from the '90s. Man! We still love 'em!