Wednesday night was the official end of a commercially and socially active time in country music history. Florida Georgia Line, consisting of Brian Kelley, born in Ormond Beach, Florida, and Tyler Hubbard, born in Monroe, Georgia, played their last show together at the Minnesota State Fair on Wednesday night. Before they played their last song, “Cruise,” they thanked the crowd for always being there for them during their time as a band.
In February 2022, rumors were the two might be breaking up.
Hubbard told People, “I think ‘taking a break is the right word instead of ‘breaking up.'” “We’re not going in different directions,” Kelley said. “We’re taking a break from making music recordings. We’re making art. We like making things. So, a few years ago, we started writing without each other and trying out different writers, and now we both do that with our music. Hubbard added that he was “excited” for their last run of concerts together.
“It’s a time to celebrate F.G.L., celebrate the fans, celebrate each other, and then support each other on the next chapter of our musical and creative journeys,” he said. In 2020, the famous act got into fights on social media, like when Hubbard stopped following Kelley during the U.S. presidential election. He told radio host Storme Warren, “I even called him and said, ‘Hey buddy, I love you. I love you a lot more in real life than I do right now in your stories. I’m just going to, so I’m stopping to follow you. Not about you.
I still love you. You’ll always be my brother.’ I didn’t want to see it when I opened Instagram. So it wasn’t much of a deal.” Hubbard had just said that he and Kelley had been to therapy before but that they had “hugged it out” because they are brothers, and that’s what brothers do. Hubbard said on Bobby Bones’ podcast in July 2022 that Kelley was the one who suggested they go their separate ways, but that “there is no bad blood between the two of them.” Hubbard did say that they “might think about putting the duo back together in 10 to 15 years.”
He then joked that they would not get back together before then, even if they were offered $1 million to play a wedding. Over 12 years in Music City, the duo’s mix of country, hip-hop, and rock reached a commercial success that had never been seen before. Their first single, “Cruise,” came out in 2012. It was later remixed by rap superstar Nelly, who also worked with the duo on their last hit, “Little Bit,” in 2021. “Cruise” was the first country song to sell 10 million copies, and it spent 24 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Country sales chart.
“When we did the remix of “Cruise” with Nelly, that was a massive moment for us,” Kelley told The Tennessean at the opening of their “Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong” Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit in February 2022. “The remix opened many doors for us and made us think more significantly about what we could do in our careers. It’s given me many ideas, from touring with the Backstreet Boys to working with artists and songwriters in Los Angeles.
Teenage faith and worship leaders met at Nashville’s Belmont University, where Kelley was a pitcher who had moved twice, and Hubbard was a student who wanted to learn about how the music business works behind the scenes. After getting together as a cover band (Hubbard told the Tennessean, “We’re out-of-the-box thinkers, and if you can lead a crowd to worship, you can lead a crowd to party”), the duo signed to Big Loud’s Mountain label in December 2011. After releasing their second E.P., “It’s Just What We Do,” through a deal on July 16, 2012, they signed with Republic Nashville, which is part of the Big Machine Label Group.
They released five albums in the next ten years that sold more than five million copies each. But the artists made their mark as essential leaders in country music’s transition to a singles-heavy market dominated by digital downloads and streaming. Florida Georgia Line had 13 No. 1 singles between 2012 and 2020. As an example of how their success with singles came before modern country’s commercial expectations, the five singles from their first album for Republic, “Here’s to the Good Times,” sold about 15 million downloads, streams, and physical copies.
Five years later, their collaboration with pop singer Bebe Rexha, “Meant to Be,” was at the top of the Billboard country sales charts for about three-quarters of 2018. Impressively, the song stayed at No. 1 the whole time it was out. Also, in the history of that chart, Hubbard and Kelley have the first, third, and fifth longest-charting singles. “Cruise,” their first big hit, topped the chart for 24 weeks in 2012 and 2013, and “H.O.L.Y.” did the same in 2016 for 18 weeks.
The executive vice president of Big Machine Label Group, Jimmy Harnen, said of the success, “For Florida Georgia Line to have three songs in the top five is unclear. We want to thank all the believers very much.” Joey Moi, who is from Western Canada and is a producer, has had mainstream pop hits for the past 30 years with artists like Nickelback and Morgan Wallen. Florida Georgia Line is one of the names he is best known for.
Another Moi fan, HARDY, told Forbes in 2020 about what made his collaboration with Florida Georgia Line work so well: “[Moi] isn’t afraid to push boundaries and is very careful about getting that vocal. If you listen to all of the songs that Joey has produced, the singer’s voice sounds so good and full of confidence. That’s because he takes so much time to ensure that the vocal sounds are real and good. In country music, it’s all about how you tell your story. He makes sure that you get your point across in the studio.”
There are no plans to close the four-story, 22,000-square-foot F.G.L. House bar and restaurant at 122 Third Ave. S., which is near Lower Broadway. Hubbard told The Tennessean in 2017 that the space was “a cool opportunity in our hometown here in Nashville, a place we could call our own and gather with our friends, family, and fans to make a cool place where people can make great memories.”
According to their press and label teams, the two artists plan to go their ways with their careers. Kelley has already put out a stage musical called “May We All,” which was based on a song by Florida Georgia Line with the same name. He also has an E.P. called “Sunshine State of Mind” coming out in 2021 and a few solo singles. Hubbard just put out a six-song E.P. called “Dancin’ in the Country,” He will be touring with Keith Urban until November.