Chart-topping country artist Dierks Bentley was born in Phoenix in November 1975 and raised on rock ‘n’ roll before he had a revelation at age 17, when a friend played him a recording of Hank Williams’ “Man to Man.” He starting writing songs and working on his guitar playing, eventually moving to Nashville after completing his education in New Jersey.
Interestingly, Bentley landed an unusual job for the Nashville Network (TNN)—researching old footage of country performances, which he studied intently while continuing to hone his musical abilities. He set a personal goal of playing at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe before his 23rd birthday, which he attained with mere weeks to spare. Bentley hand-picked musicians to record his own first album with; aiming for an appealing blend of traditional, bluegrass and modern country music. The independently released Don’t Leave Me in Love (2001) earned major-label interest, and Bentley subsequently signed to Capitol Records.
The first single from 2003 major-label debut Dierks Bentley, “What Was I Thinkin’?,” quickly reached number-one on the country charts. The platinum album also had hits in “My Last Name” and “How Am I Doin.’” Bentley continued to perform and tour tirelessly, often playing in remote or seldom-visited communities. Indeed, in his first full year as a major-label act, Dierks spent 300 days on the road.
2005 follow-up Modern Day Drifter also struck platinum, on the strength of hit singles “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” and the number-ones “Come a Little Closer” and “settle For A Slowdown.” Also in 2005, Bentley won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, one of the youngest artists to be so honored. More hits ensued with 2006’s Long Trip Alone, including the title track and yet another number-one single, “Every Mile A Memory.”
2008 compilation Greatest Hits/Every Mile a Memory 2003-2008 included the ten singles from his first three albums, two new songs (“Sweet and Wild” and “With the Band”) and five live tracks. Fourth studio album Feel That Fire appeared in 2009; its first two singles, “Feel That Fire” and “Sideways” both reached number one.
2010 all-acoustic album Up On the Ridge featured material co-written by Bentley and contributions from Bob Dylan, Buddy Miller, U2, Alison Krause, Vince Gill and Kris Kristofferso, the last three of whom appear on the album. The album was much more bluegrass-influenced than his previous albums but Bentley himself said the album is in no way a departure for him, but rather “really just going back and reclaiming something I feel like I do have some ownership of, which is the acoustic music in Nashville.”