Good thing he had a solid middle name, since Troyal Brooks wouldn't make a good stage name. Troyal Garth Brooks was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest child of Troyal Raymond Brooks and Colleen Carroll. His father was a draftsman for an oil company and his mother was a 1950s-era country singer who recorded on the Capitol Records label.
The family hosted weekly talent nights and Garth, his sister and four older half-siblings were required to participate, either by singing or doing skits. Brooks learned to play both the guitar and banjo.
Garth's primary focus as a child was athletics. In high school, he played football and baseball and ran track and field. He received a track scholarship to Oklahoma State University, where he competed in the javelin. He graduated in 1984 with a degree in advertising.
Brooks began his professional music career later in 1984. He sang and played guitar in Oklahoma clubs and bars. His favorite music was rock, however, after hearing George Strait's debut single "Unwound
" he decided that he was more interested in playing Country music.
Although Brooks' musical style is Country music, he was strongly influenced by the 1970s singer-songwriter era, especially James Taylor, his idol whom he named his first child Taylor after.
Garth's second album, No Fences
, was released in 1990. It enjoyed 23 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country music chart and eventually became his highest-selling album. Brooks' signature song is the blue collar anthem "Friends In Low Places
" appeared on this album along with "The Thunder Rolls" and "Unanswered Prayers." Each of these songs reached #1 on the Country chart.
Brooks and his production company Red Strokes Entertainment, along with Paramount Pictures, began to develop a movie in 1999 in which Garth would star. The film, The Lamb, was to have revolved around a character named Chris Gaines, a fictional rock singer and his emotionally conflicted life as a musician in the public eye. To bring attention to the project, Garth took on the identity of Gaines in his October 1999 album Garth Brooks in … The Life of Chris Gaines, which was intended as a "pre-soundtrack" to the film. Despite his best efforts promoting the album and film, the project was a failure. 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 felt that by supporting the Gaines project they would lose the real Garth Brooks.
Garth officially announced his retirement from recording and performing in October 2000, stating that he would be retired until his youngest daughter turned 18. In 2005 he insisted that he was not touring and that he did not plan to record any new studio material until at least 2015. In August of that year he 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 a six CD box set called The Limited Series which contained past material and a Lost Sessions disc with eleven previously unissued recordings. This set was the first time in history that a musician had signed an exclusive music distribution deal with a single retailer.
In October 2009 Brooks announced that he was coming out of retirement in order to do weekend performances on the Las Vegas Strip. This arrangement gives Garth a schedule that allows him to perform on weekends and have his family life during the week. In August 2011 the country music singer told his audience that as soon as his youngest daughter is in college he will be "firing the tour back up."
Brooks has been married twice. His first marriage was to his college sweetheart, Sandy Mahl. They have three daughters together. His second marriage was to his longtime friend and collaborator Trisha Yearwood.
Garth received a bachelor's degree in advertising in 1985, then earned his Master's in business administration from Oklahoma State in 2011.
In 2000, Garth attempted to donate part of his liver for a transplant for Chris LeDoux, but he was deemed incompatible. Chris died of complications from liver cancer in 2005.
Garth Brooks participated in spring training for the San Diego Padres in both 1998 and 1999 plus the New York Mets in 2000, but he didn't make either team. The singer was released by the New York Mets from their roster on March 19, 2000 after having a zero-for-17 batting record during his spring training season with them.
Brooks returned to baseball one last time in 2004, for a final spring training season with the Kansas City Royals. Again he failed to get a place on the regular season roster, but Brooks was able to get a hit off Mike Myers.