Garth Brooks

The mixture of country and rock and roll used by Garth Brooks helped to propel him to the top of the country charts and return the idiom to popular music. Brooks was born in Oklahoma in 1962; his mother had been a recorded singer and she encouraged her children’s musical ability by staging talent nights in their home. At a young age, Brooks learned the guitar and banjo, but preferred to play sports. He graduated from college with a degree in advertising in 1984 and began his musical career performing in clubs around Oklahoma the following year. By 1987, having developed a country-tinged take on 1970s singer-songwriter rock, Brooks and his family moved to Nashville and he became involved in the city’s music industry. His debut eponymous album in 1989 exhibited a traditional country take but, bolstered by music videos, developed a crossover audience. He opened for Kenny Rogers on his first major tour the same year and, in 1990, released No Fences, which sold 17 million copies in the United States alone and spawned another string of hit singles. Brooks developed a performing style that hinged on his use of wireless microphones and allowed him to run around an arena stage. The two-year global tour following 1995’s Fresh Horses became the third most attended tour of all time and Double Live, recorded on the tour, became the best-selling live album in history, certified twenty-one times platinum. In 1999, Brooks debuted his alter ego, Chris Gaines, who allowed Brooks to present himself as a straight rock and roll musician but bewildered his audience. Following Scarecrow in 2001, Brooks announced his retirement from touring and recording; this lasted, save special concerts, through 2009. Until 2014 he performed 186 shows as part of the “Garth at Wynn” residency in Las Vegas. Following the residency, Brooks returned to regular performances, recording, and dominance over the mainstream country music marketplace.