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Country-rock duo Corbin/Hanner ending performance career 1 / 12 Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media Pittsburgh country-rock musicians, Bob Corbin, left, and Dave Hanner, right, of the Corbin-Hanner Band, stand in Hanner's son, Jake's studio in Richland Township on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. Corbin and Hanner wrote hits for some of the biggest stars in music, including Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., and the Oak Ridge Boys. Longtime Corbin/Hanner fans say farewell • Joe Krstulich, Johnstown: “When I heard Bob and Dave's voices and original songs in 1979, other bands didn't matter. The final show will be like the day the music died.” • Genevieve “Gene” Flanery, Indiana Township: “We hope they reconsider retirement. They bring happiness. People love them. Their ‘Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good' offered me great solace when I was recovering from cancer surgery.” • Sharon Simpson, Pleasant Hills: “I basically grew up with them being a part of my life for the past 40 years and have gone to between 600 and 800 of their shows, which are unbelievable. I am heartbroken about this end of an era.” • Diane Sippel, Franklin, formerly of Shaler: “Their music sings to the heart of just everyday life experiences, all emotions. Some of these new country artists should lisen to real songs by Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner and record real music. Bob and Dave had it down before Kenny Chesney had a high-school diploma.” • Rick Jergel, general manager of Jergel's Rhythm Grille: “I am flattered they chose our venue for their final shows. Anytime Corbin/Hanner performs is a special night. They definitely will leave a void in the music world and will be missed.” Music saves a life The truck driver was calling in from the road. His wife told him she had met someone else and, by the time he made it home, she would be gone. Devastated, he decided to drive his vehicle into a ravine a few miles down the road. Before he arrived there, Alabama's “Can't Keep a Good Man Down,” a song written by Ford City natives Corbin/Hanner, came on the radio. The message made him rethink his idea of suicide. A few years later, the trucker approached the writer of the song, Bob Corbin, and related the story. Corbin was stunned. “When you hear something like that, it makes you realize what a powerful thing music can be,” he says. “It amazed me.” Daily Photo Galleries Wednesday - March 4, 2015 Music Photo Galleries By Rex Rutkoski Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, 5:39 p.m.   Dave Hanner says he and Bob Corbin, his musical partner and friend since seventh grade, thought they were “going to sneak out quietly” when their “Last Concert Ever” was announced for Aug. 29. “We're actually grateful our fans aren't going to let us get away with that,” Hanner says. A second show at Jergel's Rhythm Grille in Warrendale had to be added for Aug. 31 before the singer-songwriters officially bring their performance career to a conclusion. Besides performing in the Corbin/Hanner Band, the two have written hit songs for several major country artists, selling a combined 20 million-plus copies. “We never dreamed we would sell out two shows. That blew us away,” Corbin says. It shouldn't have, given that the Ford City-area natives and North Hills residents, both 65, have built an intensely loyal following since starting their careers as Gravel in January 1970 at the Fox Cafe in Shadyside. “It was one of our first shows in Pittsburgh, and we didn't even realize it was considered one of the hip places in town,” Hanner says. “All of a sudden, everybody loved us. We couldn't believe it.” Their sound — rock tinged in the tradition of Creedence Clearwater Revival — struck a decided chord, eventually earning a deal with CBS Records. “The Fox Cafe booked us six nights a week, eight hours on Saturdays. One Saturday, we played ‘Down by the River' four times. The place was so packed Wednesday, Friday and Saturday that we didn't bother to try to make it to the front door on break,” Hanner recalls. “At one time, they were the best rock 'n' roll band in the Pittsburgh area,” says Sam Kanish of East Franklin, Armstrong County, who has been following Corbin and Hanner since their first paying gig in the mid-1960s at a Kittanning YMCA dance when they were in junior high. “Then they headed to Nashville where they opened doors for other singer-songwriters from up here,” he says. Their name changed from Gravel to the Corbin/Hanner Band in 1977. En route to gold and platinum awards, eight of their songs became Top 5 singles on the country charts, with the majority going to No. 1. Alabama took “Can't Keep a Good Man Down” and “Fire in the Night” to the winners circle; the Oak Ridge Boys did the same with “American Family,” also making it the title track of an album. Kenny Rogers recorded “She Rides Wild Horses” and named his album after it. Don Williams, Anne Murray and Lee Ann Womack recorded “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” and Williams also had a Top 5 with “Never Be in Love Again.” Country Music Hall-of-Famer Mel Tillis gave the artists their first major break, recording about a dozen of their songs, including “In the Middle of the Night,” on which Corbin and Hanner sang background, “Time Has Treated You Well” and the Top 10 “Blind in Love.” Hank Williams Jr.'s version of “Dinosaur” brought an early gold record. “Fire in the Night” is performed by Alabama in Patrick Swayze's “Road House” movie. The Marshall Tucker Band, Glen Campbell, Burl Ives, Michael Martin Murphy and Bill Miller were among other artists recording the material of Corbin and Hanner, who also toured with the Oaks, Tillis and Don Williams. Corbin and Hanner's own nine albums include releases on Mercury/Polygram (“Black and White Photograph” and “Just Another Hill”) and other national labels. Three of their own singles reached the Top 30 on the national country charts, and “Work Song,” a nod to the blue-collar small town ethic of Ford City, became a much requested Monday-morning staple on stations across the country. Stars never aligned “I have worked with a lot of artists over the years, and these guys are the real deal,” says former Pittsburgh resident Kip Paxton, who played bass guitar and sang behind Corbin and Hanner for many years and is returning from his Nashville home to play the Jergel's shows. “They should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” “No doubt about it that Bob and Dave could have performed their own material as artists in their own right (nationally) and been very successful,” Paxton says. “There were many inside the music industry that respected and knew them very well.” The stars just never aligned properly, says their former manager Bob Burwell, who works for Vector Management, one of the largest firms in Nashville. “They should have been big stars on their own. They both are fantastic songwriters with world-class songs, good singers with their own style and good guys that people like to hang out with,” he says. “Some of their songs that weren't hits were even better songs.” “Scooter, Michael, Danny and Me,” about growing up in Ford City, is a “killer song” Burwell says. “You can almost picture being in Ford City or any other little town. That's what I thought country music wants to be about, and that was what that song was for me.” They were able to tell stories with their music, which is why their songs lend themselves to the country genre so well, says DJ Jeremy Mulder, host of the “Danger Show” afternoons on Pittsburgh country station Froggy. “The music business is tough, but they had talents that couldn't be denied. They have an incredible body of work,” he says. “To me, their music is a mix of rock, blues, country and gospel.” Whenever they would perform on air in the Froggy studio, Mulder says he always knew he was witnessing something special. “They are special people that Pittsburgh was lucky to have around. Their music will live on long past their retirement,” he says. Corbin and Hanner are philosophical about how their career has gone. “You can always wish you were more successful, or that we had gotten big, but, in the end, everything worked out OK,” Corbin says. “We've been fortunate to have always been able to write songs and sing them and have people respond, for the most part, favorably. You can't ask for more than that. We told people's stories in our songs.” Recognition Hanner tips his hat to those who do make it to the top in music. “It is hard, like running for office. You have to wake up daily thinking about how to further your career,” he says. “Bob and I were happy to write songs and go sing them. When it came to self-promotion, we sort of hoped the phone wouldn't ring. Pretty early on, we realized it was mainly about the music and the songs. So, we just did our best and kept our fingers crossed, and if anything else good happened, it was a bonus.” Pittsburgh's Joe Grushecky says Corbin and Hanner were the guys to whom he always looked up. “Gravel was the Pittsburgh club band back in the day. They played original music when it was totally unacceptable to do so and made records when that was an almost impossible dream here in this town,” he says. “They showed me what could be done with determination and talent.” Grushecky worked and wrote with Corbin on Grushecky's 1990 “Swimming With the Sharks” album for Rounder Records, which Corbin produced and which was nominated for album of the year in the National Association of Independent Record Distributors honors. Time is right Corbin and Hanner say the time is right to pursue other paths. Corbin and his wife, Edana, fell in love with the laidback lifestyle in South America and hope to move there for at least a while. “I might try writing fiction or get into something completely different. We will see where the journey takes me,” Corbin says. “I don't think I will stop writing songs. Beyond that, who knows?” Hanner is happy for his friend of almost 50 years. “I have great pleasure thinking of Bob down in South America, ‘having his coffee by the sea' (as Corbin wrote in his early song, ‘Rio De Janeiro'),” Hanner says. “I half expect him to get all fired up about some Spanish songs he runs across and come back here and force me to learn enough Spanish to sing harmony on the choruses.” Hanner already has begun his new adventures, traveling, skiing and finally allowing himself enough time to concentrate on songwriting without being sidetracked by other projects, such as the tunes he penned for commercials and various work-for-hire efforts in his home studio. Closing the chapter on the Corbin/Hanner Band is “really not that bitter,” he says, “just sweet.” “It's hard to put into words how grateful we feel for the support we've gotten in Pittsburgh practically every day since 1970. It's just amazing,” Hanner says. “In the end, all we have is memories,” Corbin says, “and I will always have wonderful ones.” Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or Read more: Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook” - Rex Rutkoski

Tribune Review

Corbin/Hanner sign off with two farewell shows at Jergel's August 28, 2014 12:00 AM Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner in the early '80s. Share with others: 0inShare   By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette As it turns out, The Corbin-Hanner Band can't do one "Last Show Ever." There had to be an encore. The country group, which dates back more than 40 years, will perform its "Last Show Ever" on Friday night at Jergel's, followed by a real last show ever on Sunday, and both are sold out. The Corbin-Hanner Band Where: Jergel’s, Marshall. When: 9 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: Sold out. The shows will celebrate a successful, hit-filled career that dates back to the late '60s and a friendship that goes back even longer. Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner grew up in Ford City, Armstrong County, and, taking their inspiration from The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show," started making music together in seventh grade. By 10th grade, they formed a band, The Lost Lambs, that was good enough to be invited to New York by Jubilee Records, known for Chad and Jeremy, to record an album. It was just a group we had in high school," Mr. Corbin says. "We were trying to imitate the British Invasion. Anyone who is in a group now, of a certain age, if he says he wasn't [influenced by the Beatles] then he's probably lying. It was not a big success but enough to inspire them to continue, so after a brief stint at different colleges, they quit and reunited to form the country-rock band Gravel. We never thought of us as a country kind of thing," he says. "We played Creedence and the Stones, Neil Young, which to everyone's mind had a country connotation," he says. Gravel took off once they were booked at the Fox Cafe, a hip club in Shadyside. It was really our kicking-off point. All we knew is we had to play six nights a week with eight hours on Saturdays," the singer recalls. "I think on Saturdays we probably did 'Down by the River' by Neil Young like four or five times. We got into some pretty ridiculous jams. Gravel became a popular draw for fans as well as other musicians. Gravel was the first great band I heard when I first moved to Pittsburgh in the early '70s, and I used to go see them a lot on my off nights," says Billy Price. They were one of the bands I looked up to in Pittsburgh when The Houserockers were starting out," says Joe Grushecky. "They played and sang great and were playing original songs when it was practically unheard of to do in the clubs here. The group and its now steady following throughout the region caught the attention of Columbia Records, which released the single "America's Sweetheart" in 1979 as the Corbin-Hanner Band. We had what they called a singles deal. They were doing that a lot back then," Mr. Corbin says. When the singles didn't take off, the pair headed to Nashville to pitch its songs to other artists, starting with Mel Tillis who went Top 10 in 1979 with Mr. Corbin's "Blind in Love. We were thrilled," Mr. Corbin says. "It was our first real sense of the big time. The first person we met down there was Mel Tillis, and he had just won Entertainer of the Year that year. When he recorded our songs, I can't even explain how wonderful it was, and it just rolled from there. Having secured song-publishing contracts, they scored hits with The Oak Ridge Boys, Don Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Alabama and more. In 1981, the Corbin-Hanner Band released its first of two albums on Alpha Records, "For the Sake of the Song" and "Son of America." Two songs -- "Livin' the Good Life" and "Time Has Treated You Well" -- hit top 20 country and the group toured the country opening for The Oak Ridge Boys, Mel Tillis, Don Williams and others. But the two considered it a disappointment and decided to go their own ways for a while in 1984. Mr. Corbin wrote two No. 1 hits for Alabama ("Fire in the Night'' and "Can't Keep a Good Man Down") in 1984 and Mr. Hanner had another Tillis success with "Time Has Treated You Well.'' In 1989, at the behest of Harold Shedd of Mercury Records, they reunited as Corbin/Hanner for "Black and White Photograph" in 1991 and "Just Another Hill" in 1992. After another hiatus, Corbin/Hanner formed again around 1997 and released three albums on its own label, Lil Red Hen: "Every Stranger Has a Story" (1998), "By Request" (1999) and "Originals" (2000), an offering of 11 of their songs recorded by other artists. In 2008 Corbin/Hanner released "And the Road Went On. The numbers in all: nine albums total; five Corbin-Hanner Band singles in the Top 30 country chart; eight Top 5 singles for other artists; approximately 150 songs by artists from around the world. We never had that real big hit as country artists," Mr. Corbin says. "I'm not sure if people knew quite how to take us. If we had come out now, as we were back then, we probably would have had a better shot at it, because things lean more towards rock 'n' roll now. The Corbin/Hanner farewell is spawned in part by Mr. Corbin's planned move to either Ecuador or Panama with his wife. I've been down there a couple times and really like the atmosphere, the way the people are," he says. "And I can avoid cold winters again. Bassist Kip Paxton, who started playing with Corbin-Hanner in the late '70s, is coming up from Nashville for the gig. I actually owe my Nashville music career to those guys," he says. "When we took a break back in the '80s and they focused more on their writing, they first hooked me up with Mel Tillis. I worked with Mel for almost four years and that spilled over into many other great gigs. But playing with Corbin-Hanner was the highlight, for sure. We had a chemistry that I've never felt with any other artist or band I've worked with. I've had the opportunity to become friends with Bob and Dave over the years and work with them in lots of different contexts," Mr. Price says. "They were always such soulful singers and great songwriters, and they deserve all of the success they've had in the music business. They are also both terrific guys, and I wish the best for them as they move on to other pursuits. I wish Bob and Dave all the luck in the world," Mr. Grushecky says. "They are both consummate pros and great guys. Although they never rose to Tillis or Alabama level themselves, looking back on a career that spanned decades, Mr. Corbin says, "I wouldn't trade a minute of it. We've always been able to play around here for people who like us and we were all over the United States. I don't remember any bad things. It was all good. ” - Scott Mervis

Pittsburgh Post Gazette