The Life And Times Of Superstar Garth Brooks
The best-selling solo artist in the United States, Garth Brooks is a country singer/songwriter, known for his refreshing take on the genre. His success is comparable with the Beatles and Elvis Presley, although his life spans far beyond his work as a musician. Take a look to see what made him such a superstar worldwide, the many records he's broken, his interests other than music, and some undeniable failures he's had along the way. This is the life of Garth Brooks.
He Had Multiple Minor League Baseball Contracts
Garth Brooks had always been an athlete at heart, even earning a track and field scholarship to Oklahoma State University where he threw the javelin. Then, in 1999, the San Diego Padres signed him in a minor league deal and invited him to play with them during spring training.
During the spring, he played left field with a sub-par batting average of .045. The next year, he signed on to play with the New York Mets, trying his hand at baseball once again in 2004 with the Kansas City Royals.
His Mother Was Also A Singer
Although Garth Brooks may be one of the best-known country singers in the world, he isn't the first person in his family to have a career in the music industry. His mother, Colleen McElroy Carroll, was signed with Capitol Records in the 1950s as a country singer.
She recorded under the name Colleen Carroll, releasing a few songs under the label and regularly performing on Ozark Jubilee. Under the encouragement of both his parents, Brooks and his five other siblings became interested in music at a young age.
He Has A Music Alter-Ego
In 1999, Brooks took on the alter-ego of Chris Gaines, a made-up rock and roll musician as a character in the film The Lamb. Although the movie was never completed, Brooks held on to his alter-ego releasing the film's soundtrack, Garth Brooks in...The Life of Chris Gaines or Chris Gaine's Greatest Hits.
Brooks also appeared as Gaines in the television mockumentary Behind the Music and hosted and performed as Gaines on Saturday Night Live. However, the majority of the American public was simply confused by the idea of Brooks playing rock music. Although sales were majorly overestimated, it still managed to earn the No.2 spot on the Billboard 200 chart.
He Set The Bar For Country Artists
In 1991, Garth Brooks managed to accomplish something that no other country music star had done before. His third studio album, Ropin' the Wind, debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart, something that was unheard of at the time.
However, he managed to do it again with his 1997 album Sevens. His other albums Double Live, In Pieces, and Scarecrow all also reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200, however, they didn't debut at the top.
He Met His First Wife When He Threw Her Out Of A bar
While in college, Brooks worked as a bouncer at the Tumbleweed Salon. At one point, he had to break up a physical altercation in the ladies' bathroom, leading him to kick one of the patrons out of the bar. Her name was Sandy Mahl, and he would go on to marry her just a few years later.
According to Brooks, "She beat me about nine times close to hell that night, too. I finally got her outside and I just kept noticing how cute she was … I asked her out. She told me to drop dead." The two would wed in 1986 and divorce 15 years later.
He Collaborated With KISS
Garth Brooks is open about his love for rock and roll, with a lot of his live shows in the 1990s being influenced by artists such as Queen and KISS. In 1994, KISS produced an album titled Kiss My [Expletive]: Classic Kiss Regrooved and like a dream come true asked for Garth Brooks to contribute to it.
Of course, Brooks jumped on the opportunity and sang lead vocals on the track "Hard Luck Woman." He also had a chance to perform the song on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
He Supposedly Turned Down Films Where He Wasn't The Star
According to Lisa Sanderson, a former production partner, Garth Brooks doesn't like being out-done by anyone. During a lawsuit she filed against Brooks, she claimed that he turned down the role of Private Jackson in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan for fear of being in the shadow of Matt Damon and Tom Hanks.
Sanderson continued that he also turned down a role in Twister because he was afraid that the tornado would be the real star of the show.
He Tried To Donate Part of His Liver
When his long-time friend and fellow country musician Chris LeDoux (whom he mentions in the song "Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old") was diagnosed with liver cancer, Brooks stepped up to the plate. He offered LeDoux a portion of his own liver to help him fight the disease.
Unfortunately, Brook's liver was incompatible, although LeDoux was able to undergo a transplant in 2000. He then went on to release two more albums before passing away in 2005.
He Co-Founded A Charity
In 1999, Brooks founded the Teammates for Kids Foundation which partners with professional athletes and celebrities to help provide funding for children's hospitals. The program also helps to fund educational programs for underprivileged youth, as well as creating "Child Safe Zones."
In addition to his foundation, Brooks has been involved in countless fundraisers and other charities of all kinds. He also frequently performs at benefit shows worldwide and is a strong supporter of Habitat For Humanity.
Controversy With Elvis Presley
According to the Recording Industry of America, Brooks was named the best-selling solo artist of the 20th century in the United States. However, this statement did not sit well with a lot of fans and music lovers who were firm in their belief that Elvis Presley had sold more records.
Their argument was that Elvis had been ripped-off due to faulty RIAA certification methods during his career. Although Brooks is proud of his numerous accomplishments, he went on to state that he thought Elvis sold more records as well.
He's A Strong Supporter Of Gay Rights
In a 1999 interview Brooks stated, "if you're in love, you've got to follow your heart and trust that God will explain to us why we sometimes fall in love with people of the same sex."
In 2000, he also made an appearance at the Equality Rocks benefit concert for gay rights where he performed a duet with George Michael. Brooks' half-sister Betsy Smittle was also a lesbian, and Brooks credits her with being his inspiration for supporting same-sex marriage.
He Has A Masters Degree
In 1984, Brooks graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in advertising, possibly a skill that helped him grow his band and become as successful as he is. However, his education doesn't stop there.
He eventually returned to school and in 2011, he received his Masters of Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Unlike other celebrities and musicians who earn degrees later in life, this one was legitimate and not an honorary degree.
One Of His Verses Was Omitted From A Song
"The Thunder Rolls" was a major single from Brooks' 1990 album No Fences. However, most people don't know that there was a third verse was omitted from the recording. The verse describes a woman who grabs a gun from a dresser to either kill herself or her abusive husband. Yet, that doesn't stop him from performing it live which fans go crazy over.
When it came to making a music video, Brooks wanted to act out the third verse of the song in order to bring the edited and unedited versions together. This led to CMT banning the music video and Brooks selling a collection of unedited music videos for big bucks.
Garth Isn't His First Name
Believe it or not, Garth isn't actually Brooks' first name. He was actually named Troyal Garth Brooks, after his father, Troyal Raymond Brooks Jr. He was born on February 7, 1962, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was the youngest of his parent's children.
Eventually, he made the transition from by Troyal to Garth, possibly as a way to be more individualistic instead of being known as Troyal Brooks III. Also, Garth Brooks sounds better for a country music star.
He Threatened To Not Perform The National Anthem At The Superbowl
At the Super Bowl in 1993, Garth Brooks almost walked out of his performance of the National Anthem. At the time, Brooks had been told that his video "We Shall Be Free" would be played during the broadcast.
The song was written as a response to the L.A. riots with the video showing images of the KKK, flags burning, and more, which the network deemed as too controversial. So, Brooks reportedly left the stadium with 45 minutes to kickoff. Although the network scrambled to find a performer, Brooks eventually got his wish, his video was played, and he sang the National Anthem.
The United Kingdom Loves Him Just As Much
Although Garth Brooks was out-of-this-world popular in the United States, surprisingly, he saw just as much success in the United Kingdom. While on his world tour in 1993, Brooks managed to sell out incredibly large venues such as Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and London's Wembley Arena.
He was so popular across the pond that the English DJ Nick Barraclough started calling him "Garth Vader" because he was invading the charts. English tribute bands even began to form after Brooks blew through.
He Played For Almost One Million People
Nicknamed "Garthstock," on August 7, 1997, Brooks played a free concert in Central Park that grew to be the largest concert ever held there. Then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's office assumed that the concert would only bring in an audience of around 300,000 because of the areas limited affinity to country music.
However, after the show, the New York City Fire Department estimated that there were approximately 980,000 in attendance. The show was filmed and broadcast live by HBO with Billy Joel and Don McLean performing as special guests.
He Turned Down A Major Award
By 1996, there was no denying that Garth Brooks was on top of the world, and had accumulated more than his fair share of awards and accolades. So many, in fact, that at the 1996 American Music Awards, he turned down the Favorite Artist of the Year award.
In a post-show interview, he admitted that he thought Hootie and the Blowfish were more deserving. He commented, "I've been around [the country] talking to retailers . . . and every one of them credits Hootie [& the Blowfish] for keeping them alive in 1995 and I couldn't agree more. So I thought that's who shoulda won."
He Held A 23-Hour Autograph Session
On the 25th anniversary of the CMA music festival in 1996, Garth Brooks made a last-minute decision to attend. Unsurprisingly, upon his arrival, his booth was swamped by thousands of fans either to get a look at the country singer or get his John Hancock.
However, instead of waving the masses away as some might do, Brooks sat down and began what turned out to be a 23-hour autograph signing in which he didn't take a single break. Now that's a real dedication to fans!
He Retired For His Family
Although Brooks' career was at an all-time high, it was also creating issues with his home life. He talked about retiring from music in 1992 and 1995 but continued to return to touring each time. However, on October 26, 2000, Brooks announced his retirement from recording and touring.
That same evening, he reached his goal of selling 100 million records in the United States. He officially retired after the release of his 2001 album Scarecrow, claiming he would remain retired until at least his youngest daughter finished high school. After over a decade in retirement, Brooks announced his first major performance would be at Tiger Stadium in April of 2022.