Before Brantley Gilbert was a country music star with platinum- and gold-certified albums, he was a country music fan with big dreams. And one man in particular stood out in his mind as a favorite: the one and only Garth Brooks.

"Garth Brooks had the songs, man," he tells Buffalo, N.Y., radio station WYRK. "'The Dance' and 'That Summer' and 'Papa Loved Mama' -- I love that song.

"I got to see him play once, and he was just balls to the wall and wide open and sweatin' everywhere, and he looked like a rock star," Gilbert adds. "And I was like, 'Man, if I ever do this, that's how I'm going to perform.'"

Gilbert held true to his word, and he's now one of the most entertaining stars to see live -- so much that he was tapped to join Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney's joint summer tour dates due to his stage presence and abilities to push the envelope.

Even though the rocker is now a country star in his own right, he still holds Brooks in highest esteem -- even when Gilbert beats him out on an award.

"This year at the AMAs, I was in the award category with him, and it flipped me out," Gilbert laughs. "And then we won the damn thing, and I didn't know what to think."

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