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25 Little-Known Tidbits About Country Icon Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Garth Brooks took country music by storm in the late ’80s, eventually shattering album and concert ticket sales records all over the world. But that’s just one small part of Brooks’ titanic story.

The following are 25 of the more noteworthy — and newsworthy — events related to one of the most successful artists of all time.

1. Brooks’ first name is Troyal; Garth is his middle name. Troyal is also his father’s first name.

2. Brooks was born on Feb. 7, 1962, in Tulsa, Okla. On that day, 4,391 miles away in Liverpool, England, a young band called the Beatles were playing the Cavern Club, still months from scoring their very first hit single.

3. Brooks was working as a bouncer at the Tumbleweed Ballroom in Stillwater, Okla., when he met Sandy Mahl, who would eventually would become his first wife and mother to his three daughters. He was breaking up a fight that had erupted between Mahl and another woman in the ladies’ room.

4. After ‘Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old),’ the first single from Brooks’ debut album on Capitol Nashville, mentioned “a worn out tape of Chris LeDoux,” the rodeo star / singer rose to national prominence and was signed to the label as well. LeDoux’s first project for Capitol was actually the 23rd album of his career.

5. Brooks became the 65th member of the Grand Ole Opry on Oct. 6, 1990, just 18 months after his debut album was released.

6. The thunder heard on ‘The Thunder Rolls’ was first recorded for a song called ‘Delta Rain’ by the Memphis Boys.

7. On a trip home to Yukon, Okla., in March 1991, Brooks watched as a sign on the town’s water tower was unveiled, reading: “Home of Garth Brooks.” One month later, Brooks won a record-setting six ACM awards.

8. When Brooks’ ‘Ropin’ the Wind’ became the first country album to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the album it knocked from the top spot was Metallica‘s 1991 self-titled disc.

9. The opening act on Brooks’ solo tour in 1992, his first as a headliner, was Martina McBride.

10. In 1994, when Brooks played Dublin, Ireland, he drew the biggest crowds there since a 1979 visit from the pope.

11. Brooks’ 1994 single ‘The Red Strokes’ was inspired in part by co-writer Lisa Sanderson’s visit to the Louvre in Paris and the red in a particular painting that had caught her eye.

12. In November 1995, a copy of Brooks’ ‘The Hits’ journeyed 3.4 million miles when Colonel Bill MacArthur, a space shuttle mission specialist, took it with him as he visited the Russian Mir space station in orbit.

13. In January 1996, Brooks won the American Music Award for Artist of the Year. Among the other acts nominated were Hootie & the Blowfish, led by future country star (on Capitol Nashville), Darius Rucker.

14. In May 1996, Brooks was honored at a Nashville party for sales of 60 million albums. The theme of the party: the ’60s.

15. In between the third and fourth singles from ‘Sevens,’ in 1998, Brooks released ‘To Make You Feel My Love,’ from the ‘Hope Floats’ movie soundtrack. The tune, written by Bob Dylan, has since been recorded by Billy Joel, Joan Osborne and Adele, among others.

16. Brooks’ version of ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ is the first track on the ‘Hope Floats’ soundtrack. The last track on the album is a version of the song by Trisha Yearwood.

17. Brooks and his first wife Sandy announced plans to divorce in 2000; they officially did so in 2001. Garth married Yearwood in December 2005.

18. In 2000, Brooks attempted to donate part of his liver for a transplant for the ailing LeDoux, but he was deemed incompatible. LeDoux died of complications from liver cancer in 2005.

19. In 1999, Brooks introduced the fictional character of Chris Gaines (who was “born” Aug. 1, 1967, in Brisbane, Australia).

20. Although ‘The Lamb,’ the film featuring Brooks as Gaines, never materialized, a one-off album, ‘Garth Brooks … in the Life of Chris Gaines’ was released and scored a Top 5 pop hit, ‘Lost in You.’

21. Brooks “retired” from performing and touring on Oct. 26, 2000, the same day Capitol threw a party celebrating his sales of 100 million albums.

22. In June 2005, Brooks ended his relationship with Capitol Records, after which he signed a deal with Walmart.

23. ‘More Than a Memory,’ Brooks’ 51st single, was released in 2007. Written by Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs and Billy Montana, the song became the first ever to debut at No. 1 on the country chart.

24. Brooks, who earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising in 1985, earned his master’s in business administration from Oklahoma State in 2011. He attended the ceremony and donned a cap and gown.

25. In January 2012, Brooks was crowned the top-selling artist of the last two decades. Since 1991, he has sold 68,561,000 units, some five million more than the No. 2 act — the Beatles.

You Think You Know Garth Brooks?

NEXT: Top 10 Garth Brooks Songs

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