Country has never been about a band. It has always been more like pop than rock n roll in that aspect. Even when I was listening to country a lot the only ones I can remember were Alabama, Diamond Rio and Lonestar.
Country has always been more about the individual artist.
Very true. The "band" in country music didn't really come into being until Alabama hit the scene in the early 80s. True, most artists had bands (Buck Owens had the Buckaroos, Cash had the Tennessee Two/Three, Bob Wills had the Playboys, etc.) but still the person that was known and that was featured was the individual.
There were the rare exceptions (Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys) but they were more traditional gospel quartets because they all sang and had a backing band. After Alabama you saw the rise of Shenedoah, Little Texas, Lonestar.
Really you didn't even have duos in country until Brooks & Dunn, who then spawned Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland, etc. You might have artists sing duets (George and Tammy, Conway and Loretta) but it was as a one off with established stars.
I was thinking the other day about when country music really changed, and for me it was when Shania Twian released "The Woman In Me". Yes, there was some change already in place at that time, with Travis Tritt pulling more of a southern rock sound, but from the late 70s that had always been an influence - with Hank Jr, Charlie Daniels and Alabama. Shania, bringing in Mutt Lange to produce her, really got the ball rolling in bringing the rock/pop production (and easy crossover appeal/ability) elements to country music and it snowballed as the 90s went on. Then once country radio became pop/rock friendly, you have artists who were pushed out of mainstream pop by the Britneys and heavy influence of hip-hop/rap on that area of music, you have the DariusRuckers and Uncle Krackers deciding to identify themselves as country, because it was where their audience had tened to drift to.