Country music's reigning sales king, Garth Brooks, recently released the
smash hit album, Double Live. When the two-CD set came out near
the end of 1998, it moved 500,000 copies in one day and eventually
surpassed the all-time one-week sales record set by Pearl Jam's 1993
But Brooks' record-breaking one-week total of 1,085,373 was challenged
by industry insiders who attributed it to a change in the way major
distributor the Handleman Company reports its sales. Handleman supplies
a great deal of stock to Wal-Mart, which heavily promoted Double
That controversy notwithstanding, Troyal Garth Brooks, born 37 years ago
today in Tulsa, Okla., is a commercial phenomenon in the music business.
Brooks' mother, Colleen, was an unsuccessful, professional country
singer who performed at family gatherings, often with a very young Garth
at her side. At first, Garth concentrated on sports at school, and
received a partial scholarship to Oklahoma State University as a javelin
But Brooks soon began singing at local clubs and dropped sports to try a
career as a country singer. In 1985, he moved to Nashville, Tenn., but
soon gave up and moved back to Oklahoma. He got married and brought his
wife back to the unofficial country music "capital," two years later, to
try again. In 1988, Capitol Records finally signed Brooks and issued his
1989 eponymous debut. The LP was an immediate hit and crossed over to
the pop charts.
Brooks' second LP, No Fences, brought him superstar status and
helped him eclipse other young male country singers such as Travis Tritt
and Clint Black. The LP yielded such hits as "Friends in Low Places" and
"Unanswered Prayers." No Fences eventually sold more than 10
million units and propelled Brooks into a stadium-level live act.
He soon was able to sell out huge concert venues almost immediately, and
quickly became famous for using a cordless, headset microphone that
enabled him to run around the stage like the '70s-era Elton John. Also
like '70s mega-stars, Brooks used complex light shows and pyrotechnics
during his concerts.
Though Brooks' live spectacle brought him fans, many country purists
thought his shows and personality were too over-the-top to be
genuine-Nashville music. Despite the scorn of many of his country peers, Brooks'
1991 Ropin' the Wind became the first country effort to debut at
#1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Brooks experimented with gospel on The Chase, but returned to his
usual country pop on 1993's In Pieces. Two years later came
Fresh Horses. Though all of these releases sold extremely well by
music industry standards, Brooks began to tell media interviewers he was
intent on out-selling everyone, inspiring more rancor among fellow
In the ensuing years, Brooks trumpeted his high-profile appearances,
including a concert in New York City's Central Park. In 1997, he issued
the highly successful Sevens, featuring
href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get- music/Brooks,_Garth/Longneck_Bottle.ram">"Longneck Bottle"
(RealAudio excerpt). Last year, he covered Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel
My Love" and issued The Limited Series, comprising his first six
Other birthdays: Jimmy Greenspoon (Three Dog Night), 51; Alan Lancaster
(ex-Status Quo), 50; Brian Travers (UB40), 40; and David Bryan (BonJovi),