Family & Companions
A talented and charismatic artist who helped to break barriers between pop and country music, Garth Brooks became one of the biggest recording artists of all time. Brooks made his mark in the music industry with his self-titled debut album (1989) that spawned the hit singles "The Dance" and "If Tomorrow Never Comes." His folk-rock inspired tunes - blending influences from Merle Haggard to James Taylor - and remarkably energetic live performances set Brooks apart from other country artists at the time. His phenomenally successful sophomore release No Fences (1990) included Brooks' trademark anthem "Friends in Low Places," while his third album Ropin' the Wind (1991) put him in the history books as the first country artist to land at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and Country Album charts. Brooks hit a minor creative bump with the critically panned concept album Garth Brooks in.the life of Chris Gaines (1999) where the singer took on a rock alter ego. Amidst his meteoric rise to fame, countless awards, and a secret affair (and eventual marriage) with country singer Trisha Yearwood, Brooks proclaimed family as his top priority and announced his retirement at the peak of his career. He made his triumphant return to music in 2009 with a series of concerts at the Encore resort in Las Vegas, where Brooks performed a cavalcade of hits that confirmed him as a definitive and iconic figure in country music. His 2014 comeback album Man Against Machine was a critical and commercial success, reasserting his stature as one of country music's all-time greats.
Troyal Garth Brooks was born on Feb. 7, 1962 in Tulsa, OK, the youngest of six children. Four years later, his family moved to Yukon, where his father, a former Marine, worked as a draftsman in the oil industry. His mother was singer Colleen Carroll, who recorded for Capitol Records in the mid-1950s. Brooks learned to play guitar and sing at an early age, influenced by a variety of artists, from country legends Merle Haggard and George Jones, to rock acts like Janis Joplin and Steppenwolf. The future star was also drawn to the music of singer-songwriters such as James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg. Brooks' primary interest as a young man, however, was playing sports. He played baseball, football and track in high school before attending Oklahoma State University on a track scholarship. While majoring in advertising in OSU, Brooks discovered his love for music and began performing in local clubs. After graduating college in 1984, he took a trip to Nashville, TN to pursue a music career, but quickly learned he was not ready for a big move. Brooks headed back to Oklahoma, married his college girlfriend in 1986, and continued playing in the local music circuit. The following year, Brooks gave Nashville another try which proved to be more successful after a Capitol Records' talent scout heard him sing at a writer showcase and offered him a record deal that same day.
Brooks' self-titled debut album was released in 1989 and spawned the Top 10 country singles "If Tomorrow Never Comes," "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," "Not Counting You," and "The Dance," an inspirational and moving track that appealed to listeners of all ages. Coupled with his energetic live performances, Brooks became country music's newest sensation by the decade's end. His debut also landed at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, signaling Brooks' crossover into pop territory. He outdid himself with the sophomore release No Fences, which topped the country charts in large part thanks to the blue-collar anthem "Friends in Low Places" and the stirring ballad "The Thunder Rolls." Country Music Television and The Nashville Network banned "The Thunder Rolls" music video, which contained graphic scenes of domestic violence. VH1 chose to air the controversial clip, which the music channel felt raised awareness of domestic violence, further exposing Brooks' music and artistry to the mainstream. No Fences spent 23 weeks at the top of the country music charts, won a slew of awards, and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, which made it one of the biggest-selling country albums of all time.
Brooks made music history in 1991 with the release of Ropin' the Wind, the first album to top the Billboard Hot 200 as well as the Country Album charts. The worldwide success of No Fences undoubtedly set the stage for Ropin' the Wind but it was also the singer's charismatic and electrifying performances that drew millions in. He won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1992, the same year he released his most personal album The Chase, which showcased the artists' love for singer-songwriters like James Taylor. Like its history-making predecessor, The Chase also topped the Billboard and Country Album charts, and included the song "We Shall Be Free" that was inspired by the 1992 L.A. riots. The accompanying music video, which Brooks debuted at the 1993 Super Bowl, included cameos from various celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Whoopi Goldberg, and Eddie Murphy. Following another No. 1 album, In Pieces (1993), and a successful televised concert special "Garth Live from Central Park" (HBO, 1997), Brooks turned his attention to a full pop-music crossover in 1999 by creating an alter ego. The concept revolved around Brooks taking on the persona of a mop-haired, goateed Australian alternative-rock artist named Chris Gaines for the album Garth Brooks in.the Life of Chris Gaines. The album posed as a collection of Gaines' "greatest hits" that included new wave, rock and R&B styles, and reached No. 2 on the pop charts. However, the whole experiment turned off his longtime country music fans, while music critics scoffed at the singer's attempt to stay current.
In 2000, Brooks announced he was taking a semi-retirement from music, which coincided with the news that he and his wife Sandy Mahl were filing for a divorce. He released his said-to-be final album Scarecrow (2001), which again topped the pop and country charts, but then vowed not to record or perform again until his youngest daughter turned 18. He also split from his longtime label Capitol Records. Following his divorce, Brooks went public with his secret affair with frequent collaborator and fellow country star Trisha Yearwood. The couple tied the knot on Dec. 10, 2005 in Oklahoma. That same year, Brooks signed a deal with Wal-Mart, leasing them the rights to his back catalog and issuing previously unreleased recordings. He briefly reemerged from his retirement to duet with Yearwood on the Hurricane Katrina benefit "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" (ABC, 2005). Brooks further cemented his imminent comeback by performing nine sold-out shows in 2007, held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Two years later, the singer announced he was ending his retirement to perform weekend shows at the Encore resort in Las Vegas, NV. In order to keep his family life intact, Brooks was reportedly offered a private jet by the resort to transport him weekly between Sin City and his home in Oklahoma. The shows included Brooks' classic hits as well as covers of some of his favorite artists, from Billy Joel to Simon and Garfunkel. Brooks' final show of his Las Vegas residency was broadcast as a two-hour TV special, "Garth Brooks, Live From Las Vegas" (CBS 2013) on November 29, 2013. The following year, Brooks signed with Sony Music Nashville and released his first album of new material in 13 years, Man Against Machine. (Online distribution was handled through Brooks' new digital music company, an iTunes competitor called GhostTunes.) The album debuted in the top 5 of the Billboard charts and spawned to hit country singles, "People Loving People" and "Mom."
By Marc Cuenco
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Signed a songwriter's contract for publishing purposes; hooked up with manager Bob Doyle
Released his self-titled debut album, featuring the melancholic hit single "The Dance"; album went on to become a multiplatinum seller, and the most successful country album of the 1980s
Followed up success with the multiplatinum "No Fences", spawning the hit singles "Friends in Low Places" and "The Thunder Rolls"
Hit album "Ropin' the Wind" debuted at #1 on both the country and pop charts; the hit-filled album scored numerous Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboand Music Awards, American Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards as well as a Grammy
Headlined the NBC variety special "This Is Garth Brooks"
Released "Beyond the Season", a holiday album with proceeds going to Feed the Children
"The Chase", his fifth album is released, hitting #1 on Billboard's pop and country album charts; graces the covers of Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, Saturday Evening Post and Forbes
Named Entertainer of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association
In protest of the marketing of used CDs and its subsequent drain on the purchase of new albums, threatened to pull his releases from any retailers that sold pre-owned recordings
Released the album "In Pieces", his third (and the third ever) album to debut at #1 on both Billboard's pop and country charts
Sold out three shows at Dallas' Texas Stadium in a record-breaking 92 minutes; filmed second special "This Is Garth Brooks Too!" (NBC)
Seventh studio album "Fresh Horses" released to multiplatinum chart-topping sales
Starred in third NBC special "The Hits"
Featured in the VH-1 special "Garth Brook: Storytellers"
Released "Sevens", featuring the hit single "To Make You Feel My Love" from the soundtrack of the romance "Hope Floats"
Headlined HBO special "Garth -- Live From Central Park"
Was host of and musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" (January)
Released "Garth Brooks: The Limited Series", a box set of his first 6 CDs and "Double Live", an aptly titled live double album
Received Artist of the Decade as well as Artist of the Year honors from the Academy of Country Music
Premiered his alt-rock alter ego Chris Gaines (his character in the as-yet unproduced feature "The Lamb") with the album "The Life of Chris Gaines"
Wrote and performed "When You Come Back to Me", the theme from the time travel tearjerker "Frequency"; earned Golden Globe nomination
Plans for a Graceland-like museum/home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee were shot down by the city council
In October, two weeks after announcing his impending divorce, announced plans to enter semi-retirement, slated to possibly release two albums in 2001 but choosing not to tour in support of any releases until his children are grown
Hosted three live variety specials that aired on CBS under the catch-all title "Garth Brooks: Coast to Coast Live"
Comes out of retirement with a five-year contract to perform at Encore Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
Releases comeback album Man Against Machine via his own online digital distribution company GhostTunes