Troyal Garth Brooks (born February 7, 1962) is an American country music singer and songwriter. His eponymous first album was released in 1989 and peaked at Number 2 in the US country album chart while climbing to number 13 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Brooks' integration of rock elements into his recordings and live performances earned him immense popularity. This progressive approach allowed him to dominate the country single and album charts while crossing over into the mainstream pop arena.Brooks broke records for both sales and concert attendance throughout the 1990s. As of 2013, his recordings continue to sell well and, according to Nielsen Soundscan, his albums sales up to May 2013 are 68,630,000, which makes him the best-selling albums artist in the United States in the SoundScan era (since 1991), a title held since 1991, well over 5 million ahead of his nearest rival, The Beatles. According to RIAA he is the second best-selling solo albums artist in the United States of all time behind Elvis Presley (overall third to the Beatles and Elvis Presley) with 128 million units sold. Brooks is also one of the world's best-selling artists of all time having sold more than 150 million albums.Brooks has released six albums that achieved diamond status in the United States, those being: Garth Brooks (10× platinum), No Fences (17× platinum), Ropin' the Wind (14× platinum), The Hits (10× platinum), Sevens (10× platinum) and Double Live (21× platinum). Since 1989, Brooks has released 19 records in all, which include; 10 studio albums, 1 live album, 3 compilation albums, 3 Christmas albums and 3 box sets, along with 77 singles. He won several important awards in his career, including 2 Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards (including the "Artist of the '90s") and the RIAA Award as Best selling solo albums artist of the Century in the United States.Troubled by conflicts between career and family, Brooks officially retired from recording and performing from 2001 until 2009. During this time, he sold millions of albums through an exclusive distribution deal with Walmart and sporadically released new singles. In 2005, Brooks started a partial comeback, and has since given several performances and released two compilation albums.On October 15, 2009, Garth Brooks announced the end of his retirement. In December 2009, he began a five-year concert deal with the Encore Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.Brooks was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 21, 2012.1989–1990: Breakthrough successGarth Brooks' eponymous first album was released in 1989 and was a critical and chart success. It peaked at number 2 in the US country album chart and reached number 13 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart. Most of the album was traditionalist country, influenced in part by George Strait. The first single, "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)", was a country top 10 success. It was followed by his first country number-one, "If Tomorrow Never Comes". "Not Counting You" reached number 2, and then "The Dance" put him at number-one again; this song's theme of people dying while doing something they believe in resonated strongly and, together with a popular music video, directed by John Lloyd Miller, gave Brooks his first push towards a broader audience. Brooks has claimed that out of all the songs he has recorded, "The Dance" is his favorite.His follow-up album, No Fences, was released in 1990 and spent 23 weeks as number-one on the Billboard country music chart. The album also reached number 3 on the pop chart, and eventually became Brooks's highest-selling album, with domestic shipments of 17 million. It contained what would become Brooks's signature song, the blue collar anthem "Friends in Low Places", as well as two other Brooks classics, the dramatic and controversial "The Thunder Rolls" and the philosophically ironic "Unanswered Prayers".Each of these songs, as well as the affectionate "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House", reached number-one on the country chart.While Brooks's musical style placed him squarely within the boundaries of country music, he was strongly influenced by the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, especially the works of James Taylor (whom he idolized and named his first child after) and Dan Fogelberg. Similarly, Brooks was influenced by 1970s-era rock of Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen and the operatic rock of Queen with Freddie Mercury. In his highly successful live shows, Brooks used a wireless headset microphone to free himself to run about the stage, adding energy and arena rock theatrics to spice up the normally staid country music approach to concerts. The hard rock band KISS was also one of his earliest grade school musical influences and his shows often reflected this. Brooks said that the style of his show was inspired mostly by Chris LeDoux.Brooks has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1990.1995–1998: Success in the mid-to-late 1990sIn November 1995 Brooks released Fresh Horses, his first album of new material in two years; within six months of its release, it had sold over three million copies. Despite its promising start, Fresh Horses plateaued quickly, topping out at quadruple platinum. The album's lead single, "She's Every Woman" peaked at number-one on the Billboard Country Chart, however its follow-up single, "The Fever" (a cover of an Aerosmith song ) only peaked at number 23, becoming Brooks's first released Country single to not chart on the Top 10. However, Brooks had three additional Top 10 hits from the album following the second single, including "The Beaches of Cheyenne", that also hit number one.In 1997, Brooks released his seventh studio album, Sevens. Originally, it was scheduled to be released in August 1997, when he would promote it with a concert in Central Park. Plans went awry when Capitol Records experienced a huge management shakeup, leaving many of his contacts at the label out in the cold. The album was then released in November 1997, and debuted at number-one on both the Top Country Albums and Billboard 200 album charts in the United States, and later became his fourth album to reach a sales of 10 million copies. Its first single was also Brooks's first duet, "In Another's Eyes" with friend and popular country singer, Trisha Yearwood. The song peaked at number 2 on the Country Charts. The album spawned three additional Top 10 Country hits, including two number-one hits between 1997 and 1998, "Two Pina Coladas" and "To Make You Feel My Love", which also was a Top 10 hit on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and was released on the soundtrack to the movie Hope Floats.1998 saw the release of the first installment of The Limited Series (1998 album), a six-disc box set containing reissues of the first six studio releases in the Garth Brooks catalog. Each of the reissued compact discs included a bonus track not available on the original release.Brooks's first live album, Double Live was also released in 1998. Recorded at various shows over the course of his 1998 world tour, as opposed to being a document of one show, the album contained material released up to the Limited Series box set, as well as new material not previously released elsewhere, "Tearin' It Up (And Burnin' It Down)" and "Wild As The Wind," featuring Trisha Yearwood.1999: Chris GainesIn 1999 Brooks and his production company Red Strokes Entertainment, with Paramount Pictures, began to develop a movie in which Brooks would star. The Lamb was to have revolved around Chris Gaines, a fictional rock singer and his emotionally conflicted life as a musician in the public eye. To create buzz for the project, Brooks took on the identity of Gaines in the October 1999 album Garth Brooks in ... The Life of Chris Gaines, which was intended as a 'pre-soundtrack' to the film. Brooks also subsequently appeared as Gaines in a television mockumentary for the VH1 series Behind the Music and as the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live which he hosted as himself.Brooks's endless promotion of the album and the film did not seem to stir much excitement and the failure of the Chris Gaines experiment became fairly evident mere weeks after the album was released. Although critics admired Brooks for taking a musical risk, the majority of the American public was either totally bewildered, or completely unreceptive to the idea of Garth Brooks as anything but a pop-country singer. Many of his fans also felt that by supporting the Gaines project they would lose the real Garth Brooks. Sales of the album were unspectacular and although it made it to number 2 on the pop album chart, expectations had been higher and retail stores began heavily discounting their oversupply. Less-than-expected sales of the album (more than two million) and no further developments in the production of the film as a result brought the project to an indefinite hiatus in February 2001 and Gaines quickly faded into obscurity.Despite the less-than-spectacular response to the Chris Gaines project, Brooks gained his first – and only – US Top 40 pop single in "Lost in You", the first single from the album.2000–2004: Official retirementAs his career flourished, Brooks seemed frustrated by the conflicts between career and family. He talked of retiring from performing in 1992 and 1995, but each time returned to touring. In 1999 Brooks appeared on The Nashville Network's Crook & Chase program and again mentioned retirement.On October 26, 2000, Brooks officially announced his retirement from recording and performing. Later that evening, Capitol Records saluted his achievement of selling 100 million albums in the US with a lavish party at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center.Brooks's final album, Scarecrow, was released on November 13, 2001. The album did not match the sales levels of Brooks's heyday, but still sold comfortably well, reaching number-one on both the pop and country charts. Although he staged a few performances for promotional purposes, Brooks stated that he would be retired from recording and performing at least until his youngest daughter, Allie, turned 18. Despite ceasing to record new material between 2002 and (most of) 2005, Brooks continued to chart with previously recorded material, including a top 30 placing for "Why Ain't I Running" in 2003.2005–2008In 2005, Brooks insisted that he was not touring and did not plan to record any new studio material until at least 2015. However, in August 2005 it was announced that Brooks had signed a deal with Wal-Mart, leasing them the rights to his back catalog following his split with Capitol. Three months later, Brooks and Wal-Mart issued The Limited Series, a six-CD box set containing re-issues of Garth's full length albums released subsequent to Fresh Horses, including Double Live and a Lost Sessions disc with eleven previously unreleased recordings. This set marked the first time in history that a musician had signed an exclusive music distribution deal with a single retailer. The set sold more than 500,000 physical copies on its issue date, proving that Brooks still had a large fan base. By the first week in December 2005, it had sold over 1 million physical copies.Brooks took a brief break from retirement early in 2005 to perform for several charity causes. With Yearwood, he sang Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop the Rain" on the Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast nationwide telethon for Hurricane Katrina relief. He also released a new single, "Good Ride Cowboy", as a tribute to his late friend, rodeo star and country singer, Chris LeDoux.In early 2006 Wal-Mart re-issued The Lost Sessions as a single CD apart from the boxed set, with extra tracks including a top 25 duet with Yearwood, "Love Will Always Win". The couple were later nominated for a "Best Country Collaboration With Vocals" Grammy Award for the song.On August 18, 2007, Brooks announced plans for a new boxed set called The Ultimate Hits. The new set features two discs containing 30 hits, three new songs, and a DVD featuring music videos for each of these songs. The album's first single, "More Than a Memory", was released to radio on August 27, 2007. "More Than a Memory" debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the highest-debuting single in the chart's history. The previous record had been set only one week earlier, when Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink" debuted at number 16.In November 2007, Brooks performed nine sold-out shows in Kansas City at the Sprint Center, which had opened a month prior. Originally scheduled to be only one show, the performance expanded to nine due to incredibly high demand, with all nine shows (equaling about 140,000 tickets) selling out in under two hours. The shows took place from November 5 to November 12, with the final show on November 14 – the final show was simulcast to more than 300 movie theaters across the U.S.Brooks performed five sold out concerts over two days at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on January 25 and 26, 2008 (setting numerous records at the high profile venue in the process). These concerts were staged to raise money for firefighting efforts in California which had recently been ravaged by several wildfires. Tickets were priced at $40 each and all five shows (totaling more than 85,000 tickets) sold out in 58 minutes. CBS broadcast the first concert live as a telethon for additional fundraising.2009–present: return to performingOn October 15, 2009, Brooks announced that he was coming out of retirement to do weekend performances at Encore Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip. This arrangement continued into late 2012. This schedule allowed Brooks both to have the family life for which he had retired during the week and to continue to perform on the weekend. On October 28, 2010, Garth announced he would do his first "arena" concert in Nashville since 1998. All proceeds benefits the Community Foundation in Middle Tennessee in support of all those Tennessee residents affected by the disastrous flooding that occurred the weekend of May 2, 2010.The financial terms of the agreement have not been announced, but Wynn did disclose that he gave Brooks access to a private jet to quickly transport him between Las Vegas and his home in Oklahoma.Brooks's first weekend on shows in Vegas received positive reviews and was called the "antithesis of Vegas glitz and of the country singer's arena and stadium extravaganzas" by USA Today. The shows feature Brooks performing solo with his own guitar accompaniment, and include his own hits as well as songs that have influenced him. Artists covered in the show include Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Seger, Billy Joel, and Don McLean. His first performances at Encore Las Vegas coincided with his wedding anniversary, and his wife Trisha Yearwood joined him for two songs.During a performance on August 19, 2011, Brooks told his audience that once his youngest daughter is in college he will be "firing the tour back up."On July 12, 2012, for one night only, Brooks performed in front of a sold out audience at Scotiabank Saddledome to help the Calgary Stampede celebrate its centennial anniversary.In October 2012, it was noted that Brooks was nearing the end of his residency at the Wynn in Las Vegas. During an interview, he mentioned that he would still do 'one-offs' and would like to record the show for possible DVD release. When asked about a comeback in 2014, he said, "We'll see..you know what's in my heart and what I wanna do, but we just can't say anything."In April 2013, Brooks and George Strait performed together at the 48th annual ACMAs in a tribute to former ACMA producer Dick Clark, in the first such performance by two ACMA Artists of the Decade.On July 6, 2013, Garth Brooks joined with Toby Keith to put on a benefit concert for victims of the 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes. The sold out concert featured artists Mel Tillis, John Anderson, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Sammy Hagar, Kellie Coffey, Ronnie Dunn, Carrie Underwood and Krystal Keith. It was held at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and all tickets were only $25. Brooks told Tulsa World, "Once we got the news that the tornado had hit Toby's hometown, Miss Yearwood and I told Toby we were at his service for whatever he chose to do ... I am amazed at the human spirit the tornado victims have shown. I am humbled by the giving of the volunteers. It is an honor to get to be a part of this healing process." This was the first time Brooks performed in his home state of Oklahoma since his tour in 1997.In December 2013, Brooks announced on Good Morning America that he and his band are going on a world tour in 2014.On February 6, 2014, Brooks performed The Dance on the final episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and later closed the show with a performance of Friends in Low Places.Special Ireland Shows 2014To kickoff his new tour Brooks announced 2 dates at Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland for the 25th and 26th July 2014. After going on sale the tickets sold out in 20 minutes. A third date was soon added for the 27th of July but this sold out in 15 minutes. There was anger among fans as some people were purchasing tickets to profit by reselling at higher prices (nearly 3 times face value). A few days after saying that there would be no extra shows added, Brooks announced a 4th date for the 28th of July. Tickets for this date went on sale February 6th at 9am and sold out in just 25 minutes after going on sale. After selling out the 4th date Brooks unexpectedly announced he would play a 5th date and tickets for this show sold out in about 50 minutes. In total 400,000 tickets were sold for about €28,600,000. He will become the first person to play 5 sold out shows at Croke Park.Personal lifeBrooks graduated from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, as a brother of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, where he starred on the track team. He later completed his MBA from Oklahoma State and participated in the commencement ceremony on May 6, 2011.Brooks married his college sweetheart, songwriter Sandy Mahl, on May 24, 1986. They met when Garth was a bouncer at a bar. Brooks and Mahl separated in March 1999, announcing their plans to divorce on October 9, 2000, and filing for divorce on November 6, 2000. The divorce became final on December 17, 2001. Brooks and singer Trisha Yearwood began dating after Brooks's divorce, and married on December 10, 2005, at their home in Oklahoma, marking the second marriage for Brooks and the third for Yearwood. They own homes in Goodlettsville, Tennessee; Malibu, California; and Port St. Lucie, Florida, but primarily live on their ranch in Owasso, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa.In 2000, Brooks attempted to donate part of his liver to country music contemporary, and close friend, Chris LeDoux; however, it was found to be incompatible. LeDoux received another donated liver, but died in March 2005 due to complications from liver cancer.Professional baseballBrooks set out on a short and unsuccessful career in baseball, when he signed with the San Diego Padres for spring training in 1998 and 1999. Some in the media mocked the decision of the Padres to sign a country music star in his late thirties whose baseball experience ended in high school. Brooks' performance on the field did not warrant management placing him on the regular season roster; Brooks was offered a non-roster spot but declined it.The following season, Brooks signed with the New York Mets. This time, his team embraced the entertainment value of having a country and western star on the diamond. This spring-training stint was also a poor performance for Brooks, however, resulting in a zero-for-seventeen batting record.Brooks returned to baseball, one last time, for an encore performance with the Kansas City Royals in 2004. In baseball, Brooks never matched the amount of hits he was able to achieve on the music charts, but was able to get a hit off Mike Myers during his final spring-training season with the Royals.Setting recordsThe Recording Industry Association of America announced that Garth Brooks was the best-selling solo artist of the 20th century in America. This conclusion drew criticism from the press and many music fans who were convinced that Elvis Presley had sold more records, but had been short-changed in the rankings due to faulty RIAA certification methods during his lifetime. Brooks, while proud of his sales accomplishments, stated that he too believed that Presley must have sold more.The RIAA has since reexamined their methods for counting certifications. Under their revised methods, Presley became the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, making Brooks the number two solo artist, ranking third overall, as The Beatles have sold more albums than either he or Presley. The revision brought more criticism of the accuracy of the RIAA's figures, this time from Brooks's followers.On November 5, 2007, Brooks was again named the best selling solo artist in US history, surpassing Presley after audited sales of 123 million were announced.In December 2010, several more of Presley's albums received certifications from the RIAA. As a result, Elvis again surpassed Brooks. As of June 2012, the RIAA lists Presley's total sales at 134.5 million and Brooks's at 128 million.As of January 2012, Brooks officially passed the Beatles as the top-selling act of the past 20 years, moving 68.5 million units worldwide, almost 5 million more than the Beatles.Charitable activitiesIn 1999, Garth Brooks began the Teammates for Kids Foundation which provides financial aid to charities for children. The organization breaks down into three categories spanning three different sports:Touch 'Em All Foundation – Baseball DivisionTop Shelf – Hockey DivisionTouchdown – Football DivisionThe foundation enlists players to donate a predetermined sum of money depending on their game performance. Brooks has participated in spring training for the San Diego Padres in 1998 and 1999, the New York Mets in 2000 and, most recently, with the Kansas City Royals in 2004 to promote his foundation. Starting during the 2008 season, fans at Royals games in Kauffman Stadium now sing along to "Friends in Low Places".Brooks is also a fundraiser for various other charities, including a number of children's charities and famine relief. He has also donated at least $1 million to wildlife causes. It was announced that Garth would perform a charity concert on January 25 and 26, 2008, at the Staples Center for the victims of the recent California Wildfires. On December 1, tickets went on sale and sold out within minutes, prompting them to announce 3 more shows. All 5 L.A. shows sold out in less than 59 minutes. CBS aired the first of these concerts (January 25 at 9 pm) live, giving viewers a chance to donate to the Firefighters Relief efforts.In December 2010, Garth played 9 shows in less than a week in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena to benefit victims from the May 2010 Nashville flood. Over 140,000 tickets were sold and $5 million raised.A $500,000 donation Brooks made to Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Yukon, Oklahoma, in 2005, led to a widely publicized lawsuit. According to Brooks, the hospital promised to name a new women's health center after his mother, Colleen Brooks, who died of cancer in 1999; the hospital later decided not to build the new facility, took the position that its naming commitment was non-binding, and refused to return the donation. On January 24, 2012, an Oklahoma state court jury in Claremore found in favor of Brooks, ordering the hospital to pay $500,000 for the original donation and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages.Brooks, along with Trisha Yearwood, has supported Habitat for Humanity's work over the years, including the annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. They have worked alongside the Carters in the United States and in Haiti, lending their time and voices to help build safe, decent and affordable homes. Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation provided more than $1 million in funding to Habitat to help build homes in Thailand following the Asian tsunami.Support for gay rightsIn the lyrics to his song "We Shall Be Free", Brooks sings "When we're free to love anyone we choose," which has been interpreted as a reference to gay relationships. Brooks won a 1993 GLAAD Media Award for the song. In a 1999 interview with George, Brooks said, "[...\]But if you're in love, you've got to follow your heart and trust that God will explain to us why we sometimes fall in love with people of the same sex."In 2000, Brooks appeared at the Equality Rocks benefit concert for gay rights. He sang a duet with openly gay singer George Michael.Brooks' half-sister Betsy Smittle, who died in 2013, was a well-known musician and part of Brooks' band for some years; she also worked with the late country star Gus Hardin and other musicians in Tulsa. Smittle was also a lesbian, and Brooks has credited her with some of the inspiration for his tolerant attitude.Awards2 Grammy Awards (total of 14 nominations)17 American Music Awards (including "Artist of the '90s" won in 2000)11 Country Music Association Awards18 Academy of Country Music Awards5 World Music Awards10 People's Choice Awards24 Billboard Music Awards2 ASCAP Awards2 Blockbuster AwardsAcademy of Country Music Awards, Artist of the Decade (1990s)Recording Industry Association of America, Artist of the Century (1900s)1 Radio Music Award2 Primetime Emmy Award nominations (Outstanding in a Variety of Music Program)1 Golden Globe nomination (Best Original Song)GLAAD Media Award for "We Shall Be Free"-19931 CMT Music Awards nomination, Collaborative Video of the Year for "Workin' For A Livin'" With Huey Lewis (2008)Academy of Country Music Awards, inaugural "Crystal Milestone Award" honoring him as the top-selling country music artist in history, with album sales of over 128 million in the U.S. (2008)2 American Music Awards Nominations(2008):Country Music – Favorite Male Artist Country Music – Favorite Album for "The Ultimate Hits"