Garth Brooks

From New World Encyclopedia

Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks in Washington DC, 2000
Garth Brooks in Washington DC, 2000
Background information
Birth name Troyal Garth Brooks
Born February 7 1962 (1962-02-07) (age 61)
Origin Yukon, Oklahoma, USA
Genre(s) Country, Country rock
Occupation(s) singer-songwriter
Years active 1989-present
Label(s) Capitol Nashville
Big Machine/Pearl
Associated acts Trisha Yearwood, Chris Gaines, Ty England

Troyal Garth Brooks (born February 7, 1962) is an American singer and songwriter. His integration of rock and pop elements into the country genre has earned him immense popularity in the United States. Brooks has had great success on the country single and album charts, with multi-platinum recordings and record-breaking live performances, while also crossing over into the mainstream pop arena.

Successfully integrating rock elements into his recordings and live performances, Brooks dominated the country charts in the early 1990s and quickly crossed over into the mainstream pop arena, exposing country music to a larger audience. According to the RIAA, he is the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States with 148 million domestic units sold, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to The Beatles in total album sales overall.[1] He is also one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 170 million records.

Brooks released seven albums that achieved diamond status in the United States (surpassing the Beatles' record of six); those albums are Garth Brooks (10× platinum), No Fences (17× platinum), Ropin' the Wind (14× platinum), The Hits (10× platinum), Sevens (10× platinum), Double Live (21× platinum), and The Ultimate Hits (10× platinum). He won several awards in his career, including two Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards (including "Artist of the '90s") and the RIAA Award for best-selling solo albums artist of the century in the U.S.

Troubled by conflicts between career and family, Brooks retired from recording and performing from 2001 until 2005. In 2005, Brooks started a partial comeback, giving select performances and releasing two compilation albums.

In 2009, he began Garth at Wynn, a periodic weekend concert residency at Las Vegas' Encore Theatre from December 2009 to January 2014. Following the conclusion of the residency, Brooks announced his signing with Sony Music Nashville in July 2014.[2] In September 2014, he began his comeback world tour, with wife and musician Trisha Yearwood, which culminated in 2017. His most recent album, Gunslinger, was released in November 2016.

Brooks was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 21, 2012. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.[3]

Early life

Brooks was born on February 7, 1962, the youngest of six children, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was raised in the small central Oklahoma town of Yukon. His father, Troyal Brooks, worked as a draftsman for an oil company, while his mother, Colleen Carroll, was a country singer on the Capitol Records label in the 1950s and a regular on the Red Foley Show. Brooks was interested in music as a child, often singing in casual family settings. However, his primary interest was athletics. In high school he played football and baseball and ran track. After graduation from high school, he attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater on a track scholarship as a javelin thrower. Despite discontinuing his participation in the sport, he graduated in 1984 with a degree in advertising.

Later that year, Brooks began his professional music career, singing and playing guitar in Oklahoma clubs and bars, particularly the Tumbleweed in Stillwater. After a failed trip to Nashville to gain a record contract in 1985, Brooks married Sandy Mahl of Owasso, Oklahoma the following year. The couple soon moved to Nashville, and Brooks was able to begin making contacts in the music industry. They later had three daughters: Taylor Mayne Pearl (b. 1992), August Anna (b. 1994), and Allie Colleen (b. 1996).


Country singers such as George Straight were an important influence on Brooks.

Brooks' eponymous first album, Garth Brooks, was released in 1989 and was a critical and chart success. It peaked at number two on the U.S. country album chart and reached number 13 on the Billboard 200 pop chart. Most of the album was traditional country, influenced in part by George Strait. The first single, "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," was a country top ten hit. It was followed by his first country number one, "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "Not Counting You," which reached number two. "The Dance" put him at number one again, and the song's poignant lyrics together with a popular music video gave Brooks his first push towards a broader audience. Written by his friend Tony Arata, Brooks has stated that of all the songs he has recorded, "The Dance" is his favorite.

His follow-up album, No Fences, was released in 1990 and spent an impressive 23 weeks as number one on the Billboard country-music chart. The album also reached number three on the pop chart, and eventually became Brooks' highest-selling album, with domestic sales of over 16 million records. The album contained Brooks signature song, the blue collar anthem "Friends in Low Places," as well as two other classics, the dramatic and controversial "The Thunder Rolls" and the ironic "Unanswered Prayers." Each of these songs, as well as the affectionate "Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House," reached number one on the country charts.

While Brooks' musical style placed him squarely within the boundaries of country music, he was strongly influenced by the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, especially the works of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, as well as by Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. The hard rock band KISS was also one of his earliest grade-school musical influences, and his shows often reflected this. In his highly successful live shows, Brooks used a wireless headset microphone to free himself to run about the stage, adding energy and arena rock theatrics to the normally staid country music approach to live concerts.

Brooks' third album, Ropin' the Wind, released in September 1991, had advance orders of four million copies and entered the pop album charts at number one, a first for a country act. It became his second-best selling album after No Fences. The success of this album further propelled the sales of his first two albums, enabling Brooks to become the first country artist with three albums in the top 20 on the pop charts in the same week.

After spending time in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots, Brooks co-wrote the gospel-country-rock hybrid "We Shall Be Free" to express his desire for tolerance. The song became the first single off his fourth album The Chase. The song met with resistance from country radio stations and audiences, and only reached number twelve on the country chart, his first song in three years to fail to make the top ten. However, it often received standing ovations when performed in concert, and went to number 22 on the Christian charts.

In 1993, Brooks persuaded Capitol Records not to ship his August 1993 album In Pieces to stores which sold used CDs, a practice which reduced royalties to artists and songwriters. This led to several anti-trust lawsuits against the record label and delays in shipping. Nevertheless, In Pieces was another instant number one success, selling a total of approximately ten million copies worldwide.

Despite his country musical style, Brooks cites the hard-rock band KISS as one of his early favorites and incorporated various rock concert efforts into his stage act.

British fans, however were disappointed that the album was released in the US before the UK. To support the album, Brooks embarked on a 1994 UK tour, selling out venues such as Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and London's Wembley Arena. Brooks returned in 1996 for more sold-out concerts. Elsewhere in the world Brooks was also considered a star, and he enjoyed hit records and sell-out tours in Brazil, throughout Europe, the Far East, New Zealand, and Australia.

In 1994, Brooks paid homage to one of his musical influences when he appeared on the hard rock compilation Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved, a collection of Kiss cover songs by popular artists from all genres.

One of the later peaks in Brooks' fame came on August 7, 1997, when he gave a free concert in New York City's Central Park, drawing hundreds of thousands of people in a city that many would say is far removed from the country music world. Estimates of the crowd size varied considerably, from 250,000 to 750,000 or even higher, primarily because many people were enjoying the show from outside its full-to-capacity primary venue.

'Chris Gaines'

In 1999 Brooks began to develop a movie in which Brooks would star entitled The Lamb. The plot revolved around a fictional, emotionally conflicted rock singer called Chris Gaines. To create publicity for the project, Brooks took on the identity of Gaines in the October 1999 album Garth Brooks in... The Life of Chris Gaines. Brooks' tireless promotion of the album and the film did not seem to stir much excitement and the failure of the Chris Gaines experiment became fairly evident weeks after the album was released. The album reached number two on the pop album chart, but expectations had been much higher, and retail stores began heavily discounting their oversupply of the albums.

The film project was put on indefinite hold in February 2001 and "Gaines" quickly faded into obscurity. Despite this disappointment, Brooks gained his first and only top 40 pop single in "Lost in You," from the Chris Gaines album.


Although his career still flourished, Brooks seemed frustrated by the stress of touring and the needs of his family. By 1992 he was already talking of retiring from performing and audiences occasionally noticed a lessening of energy in his performances.

In 1999, Brooks and his wife separated, announcing their plans to divorce on October 9, 2000. Two weeks later, on October 26, 2000, Brooks officially announced his retirement from recording and performing. Later that evening, Capitol Records saluted his achievement of selling 100 million albums in the US with a lavish party at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Brooks's final album before retirement, Scarecrow, was released on November 13, 2001. The album did not match the sales levels of Brooks' heyday, but still sold comfortably well, reaching number one on both the pop and country charts. Although he staged a few performances for promotional purposes, Brooks stated that he would be retired from recording and performing at least until his youngest daughter, Allie, turned 18. Despite ceasing to record new material between 2002 and (most of) 2005, Brooks continued to chart with previously recorded material, including a top 30 placing for "Why Ain't I Running" in 2003.

In the mid-1990s, tabloid journals had reported that Brooks was having an affair with longtime friend and collaborator Trisha Yearwood. The two continually denied having had an affair, but following Brooks' divorce, however, they did begin dating. The couple wed on December 10, 2005, at their home in Oklahoma, the second marriage for Brooks and the third for Yearwood.


2005–2008: Compilation albums and special performances

Brooks took a brief break from retirement early in 2005 to perform in various benefit concerts. However, he remained adamant to the premise of not releasing new music until 2014. Despite this, later that year, Brooks signed a deal with Walmart, leasing them the rights to his entire catalog following his split with Capitol Records.[4] Brooks was one of the first musicians to sign an exclusive music distribution deal with a single retailer (along with fellow country music artist Ricky Van Shelton, who issued his 1998 album Making Plans through the chain as well).[4] He also released a new single, "Good Ride Cowboy", as a tribute to his late friend and country singer, Chris LeDoux, via Walmart.[5]

Three months later, in November 2005, Brooks and Walmart issued an updated The Limited Series compilation, a box set containing reissues of Brooks' albums, including Double Live, and The Lost Sessions, featuring eleven previously unreleased recordings. The box set sold more than 500,000 physical copies on its issue date.[5] By the first week in December 2005, it had sold over 1 million physical copies.

In early 2006, Walmart reissued The Lost Sessions as a single CD apart from the box set, with additional songs, including a duet with Trisha Yearwood, "Love Will Always Win", which reached the top 25 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The couple were later nominated for a "Best Country Collaboration With Vocals" Grammy Award.

On August 18, 2007, Brooks announced plans for a new box set, The Ultimate Hits. The new set featured two discs containing 30 classic songs, three new songs, and a DVD featuring music videos. The album's first single, "More Than a Memory", was released on August 27, 2007. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the highest-debuting single in the chart's history.[6]

In November 2007, Brooks embarked on Garth Brooks: Live in Kansas City, performing nine sold-out concerts in Kansas City at the Sprint Center, which had opened a month prior. Originally scheduled to be only one show, the performance expanded to nine due to incredibly high demand, with all nine shows (equaling about 140,000 tickets) selling out in under two hours. The final concert of the series was simulcast to more than 300 movie theaters across the U.S.

In January 2008, Brooks embarked on another incredible feat performing five sold-out shows (in less than 48 hours) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for a fundraiser towards the 2007 wildfires season that impacted much of Southern California's cities and counties. The first concert (of the five) titled Garth Brooks: Live in LA was taped and broadcast repeatedly on CBS with all donations going to all of the victims and families in state of California who were impacted by the fires.

2009–2013: Las Vegas concert residency

Brooks at the We Are One concert in 2009

In January 2009, Brooks made another one of few public appearances since his retirement, performing at the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert in Washington, D.C.. In his three-song set, Brooks performed "We Shall Be Free", along with covers of Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Isley Brothers' "Shout".

On October 15, 2009, Brooks suspended his retirement to begin Garth at Wynn, a periodic weekend concert residency at Encore Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip. The schedule allowed Brooks both to have the family life during the week and to continue to perform on the weekend. The financial terms of the agreement were not announced, but Steve Wynn did disclose that he gave Brooks access to a private jet to quickly transport him between Las Vegas and his home in Oklahoma.[7]

Brooks' first weekend on shows in Vegas received positive reviews and was called the "antithesis of Vegas glitz and of the country singer's arena and stadium extravaganzas" by USA Today. The shows featured Brooks performing solo, acoustic concerts, and included a set list of songs that have influenced him. Artists covered in the show include Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Seger, Billy Joel, and Don McLean. His first performances at Encore Las Vegas coincided with his wedding anniversary, and his wife Trisha Yearwood joined him for two songs.

In 2013, influenced by the set list of the Las Vegas shows, Brooks released Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences via Walmart, a compilation album consisting of songs Brooks attributes to the development of his unique country pop genre. The box set's albums were individually certified Platinum and the compilation received a Billboard Music Award nomination. In an December 2013 appearance on Good Morning America to promote the album, Brooks also surprisingly announced plans for a world tour, beginning in 2014.[8]

2014–2015: Man Against Machine, Ghosttunes, and world tour

In February 2014, Brooks announced two concerts at Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland to be held on July 25 and 26, 2014. Due to high demand, three additional shows were added, and a total of 400,000 tickets were sold.[9] However, due to licensing conflict, Aiken Promotions and Croke Park management were prompted to cancel two of the five concerts after conflict among nearby residents. Brooks, committed to performing the five original concerts, refused to follow through with the request to only perform three, and all concerts were cancelled.[10]

On July 10, 2014, Brooks held a press conference where he announced his signing with Sony Music Nashville, as well as confirming plans for a new album, world tour, the release of his music in a digital format, and remorse for the Ireland concert controversy.[2] Fifteen days later, tickets first went on sale for the world tour. Because the Ireland concerts were announced months earlier, they are not considered to have been part of the tour.

On September 3, 2014 Brooks released his comeback single, "People Loving People", in promotion of his world tour and new album, Man Against Machine. The song debuted onto the Nielsen BDS-driven Country Airplay chart at No. 19, tying for the third-highest debut of Brooks' career.[11]

On September 4, 2014, Brooks released his entire studio output on digital for the first time ever. Bypassing traditional digital music service providers, Brooks opted into releasing his albums directly his own new online music store, GhostTunes. On September 19, Brooks confirmed the release date for his next album, scheduled for November 11 via a press conference in Atlanta. Man Against Machine was released via Pearl and RCA Nashville and was available online exclusively through GhostTunes.[12] GhostTunes closed on March 3, 2017. Brooks' digital catalogue moved to Amazon Music, who maintain exclusive rights over it.

In September 2015, it was announced Brooks would reissue his album No Fences later in the year to commemorate its 25-year release anniversary. The release would include a new version of "Friends in Low Places", featuring George Strait, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, and Keith Urban singing along with Brooks. The album release has since been delayed due to royalty disputes.[13] The track was later featured on his 2016 compilation album, The Ultimate Collection.

2016–2017: Gunslinger, Christmas Together, and online streaming

On October 13, 2016, Brooks released the first single, "Baby, Let's Lay Down and Dance," from his upcoming album.[14] The following week, Brooks released the upcoming album's title, Gunslinger, via Facebook Live.[15] It was released on November 11, 2016 as a part of The Ultimate Collection, a compilation album Brooks released through Target. Brooks' other project for 2016 was a duet holiday album with wife Trisha Yearwood, Christmas Together.[16]

After years of royalty disputes and an opposition to online music streaming, Brooks launched a streaming channel on Sirius XM Radio.[17] He also reached an agreement to stream his entire catalogue via Amazon Music.[18]

2018–present: Stadium Tour and new album

On June 19, 2018 Brooks released a new single, "All Day Long", the first off his upcoming 2019 album, Fun. The release also included a B-side, "The Road I'm On."[19] In August 2018, Brooks announced new live album, Triple Live, to be released in partnership with Ticketmaster.[20]

In August 2018, Brooks announced his Stadium Tour of thirty North American stadiums, showcasing Brooks in a football-centric environment.[21] In promotion of the tour, Brooks performed the first concert at the University of Notre Dame's football stadium in 2018. He released the second single, "Stronger Than Me", from his upcoming 2019 album release following a performance dedicated to his wife Trisha Yearwood at the CMA Awards.[22]

The third single from his album, "Dive Bar", a duet with Blake Shelton, was released in June 2019. Brooks also embarked on the Dive Bar Tour, a promotional tour in support of the single, visiting seven dive bars throughout the United States.[23]


Brooks has received two Grammy Awards, 16 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, five World Music Awards, ten People's Choice Awards, 24 Billboard Music Awards, two ASCAP Awards, and two Blockbuster Awards. He was named the 1990s Artist of the Decade by the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Recording Industry Association of America. In 1998, the RIAA announced that Garth Brooks was the best-selling solo artist of the twentieth century in America.[24]


  1. Stephen L. Betts, Garth Brooks Surpasses Elvis Presley in Album Sales... Again Rolling Stone, January 13, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cindy Watts, Garth Brooks talks new album, tour at press conference The Tennesseeian, July 10, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  3. Garth Brooks Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Melinda Newman, Garth Brooks Inks Exclusive Deal with Wal-Mart Billboard Magazine, August 19, 2005. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Garth Brooks Boxed Set is Single Biggest Music Event in Wal-Mart History Walmart, November 29, 2005. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  6. Garth Brooks Makes History at Country Radio CMT News, September 5, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  7. Randy Lewis, How Steve Wynn won over Garth Brooks Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  8. Katie Kindelan, Garth Brooks Announces World Tour on 'Good Morning America' ABC News, December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  9. Rachel Flaherty, They're gone: 400,000 Garth Brooks tickets sell out The Irish Times, February 6, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  10. Denise Calnan and Niall O'Connor, 'Crushed' Garth Brooks confirms Croke Park cancellations The Independent, July 14, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  11. Elias Leight, Garth Brooks Releases Comeback Single 'People Loving People' Billboard September 3, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  12. Garth Brooks Reveals New Album Release Date Billboard, September 20, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  13. Melinda Newman, Garth Brooks' All-Star 'Friends in Low Places' & Album Reissue On Hold Over Royalty Dispute: Exclusive Billboard, September 4, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  14. Billy Dukes, Garth Brooks, 'Baby, Let's Lay Down and Dance' [Listen] Taste of Country, October 12, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  15. Billy Dukes, Garth Brooks' 'Gunslinger' Album: Everything You Need to Know Taste of Country, October 18, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  16. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Record Duet Album Over Holiday Break WNWN, January 20, 2016.
  17. Garth Brooks to Launch His Own Exclusive SiriusXM Channel Sirius XM, July 7, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  18. Melinda Newman, Garth Brooks Reveals Amazon Streaming Deal Details: Exclusive Billboard, October 19, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  19. Nicole MastrogiannisGarth Brooks Debuts New Single "All Day Long" iHeart Radio, June 19, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  20. Rania Anifto, Garth Brooks Announces New Album 'Triple Live' in Partnership With Ticketmaster Billboard, August 27, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  21. Nancy Kruwh, Game On! Garth Brooks Announces a 3-Year Stadium Tour in the Works People, October 17, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  22. Taylor Fields, Garth Brooks Tearfully Dedicates "Stronger Than Me" To Trisha Yearwood iHeart Radio, November 14, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  23. Melinda Newman, Garth Brooks Dives into Seven-City Bar Tour Billboard, July 8, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  24. Under the association's revised calculation methods, Elvis Presley was later given this honor, making Brooks the number two solo artist, ranking third overall, as The Beatles have sold more albums than either Brooks or Presley. On November 5, 2007, Brooks was again ranked as the best-selling solo artist in history, surpassing Presley (but still number two after the Beatles) after audited sales of 123 million were announced.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Mitchell, Rick. Garth Brooks: One of a Kind, Workin' On a Full House. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN 978-0671796884
  • Morris, Ed. Garth Brooks: Platinum Cowboy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0312087883
  • O'Meilia, Matt. Garth Brooks: The Road Out of Santa Fe. Norma, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0806129075
  • Sgammato, Jo. American Thunder: The Garth Brooks Story. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. ISBN 978-0345431073


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