Garth Brooks has been a strong figure in the world of country music for many years, making his debut in 1985. The 1980’s might not seem like that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but chances are, you know Garth Brooks as a household name. So how does one man, a country singer, no less, completely change the face of not only his genre, but musical culture, in such a short amount of time? Well, you’d have to ask Garth himself, but to acknowledge his achievements and success is something you can’t ignore.
Garth was born in Tulsa, OK (his first name is actually Troyal – Garth is his middle name), and has always been proud of his roots. His fans are proud of them, too. From the very beginning, while Garth was playing in small saloons in Tulsa, there was a sense of pride that went along with everything he said, and people picked up on that. He was proud to be there, and people were proud to have him there. There has always been a sense of energy with Garth Brooks that, at the time, country music seemed to be lacking.
But, country music ran in Garth’s blood. His mother had actually been signed to Capitol Records before Garth was born, and while her success wasn’t exactly that of what Garth’s would ever be, she passed the ‘bug’ onto her son at a very early age. In fact, that music in his bloodstream just may have been the deciding factor for Garth when it came time to pick a career after high school – he was a star athlete in many different sports, but music kept tugging him back.
While Brooks began playing music regularly in 1985, it wasn’t until he moved to Nashville in 1987 that he considered it his full time career. That consideration led to booming success.
For a debut album, Garth’s first record was a huge success. It was released in 1989 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Country Chart, and number thirteen on the Billboard 200 Chart. For a country album to break into the top twenty of the general Billboard 200 Chart was an amazing feat on its own, let alone for a debut album. Garth’s music instantly resonated with people – a melting pot of flavors, from classic George Strait sounds, to more folk-sounding James Taylor, etc. Garth was drawing inspiration directly from his musical heroes and spinning his own twist into every single song, and people couldn’t get enough.
While Garth’s first album had a string of hits, there was no bigger song than “The Dance,” which allowed Garth’s music to really spread out into wider audiences. People who weren’t familiar with country music could even appreciate the song, and to this day, its popularity remains, especially when it comes to weddings, etc. Garth gained influence from many different types of music, and as a result, the people who began listening to him were people who, not surprisingly, may have liked other types of music as well. He broke down the wall between country music and everyone else in a way no one had been able to do before.
Garth’s follow-up album gave us what might be his next biggest single of all time, “Friends In Low Places.” While ceremoniously ‘country,’ Garth didn’t stay on a clear and true path as far as the country music genre goes, especially gaining influence in the singer-songwriter genre, and even rock music. Brooks’ music has always been an amalgamation of music he likes, and music he hopes everyone else ends up liking, as well.
In 1990, Garth was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry – a milestone achievement for any country singer, that he was met with after just a few years of playing music. There probably isn’t better proof over his influence of the genre than that very symbolic induction.
Through years of success, a marriage to country superstar Trisha Yearwood, and even a ‘change’ in the late 1990’s where Garth developed a new musical identity, “Chris Gaines,” and experimented with rock music, it’s no wonder there was a burnout period. Garth actually retired from music altogether in the mid-2000’s, and took a long break to spend time with his wife and children, citing that he wanted to be there to get them through school.
Clearly, Garth was never really forgotten, though. When he made his return to the music scene again several years later, Garth was met with sold out crowds, adoring fans, and even television specials. His joyous energy on stage, his overall demeanor, and his timeless songs never seemed to leave people’s minds. Garth actually wears a microphone headset on stage, instead of simply standing in front of a mic, so he can run around, showcase his energy, and interact with the audience. It’s that kind of appeal that makes people so inclined to come to his shows: There can be hundreds of thousands of people at a Garth Brooks concert, and somehow he makes everyone feel as though he is their best friend.
Garth has had a Las Vegas residency in recent years, but even more recently has been known for his sold out world tour stops with his wife, Trisha Yearwood. These two country superstars have been charming audiences for the past couple years on the road with honesty, integrity, love, energy, and a sense of community when it comes to the world of country music, and beyond. Garth Brooks will always be an incredible staple in the country music scene, and a worldly-known figure for a very long time.