Garth Brooks Hints at Return of Alter Ego, Chris Gaines

Will the country icon restart his failed rock star experiment from 1999?

Written by Chris Parton
Garth Brooks Hints at Return of Alter Ego, Chris Gaines
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Garth Brooks performs at The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize tribute concert at DAR Constitution Hall on March 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

As one of the most popular and influential figures in country history, the feeling typically goes that Garth Brooks can do whatever he wants. But what about reviving the dead?

Back in 1999, Brooks was at the peak of his game. Everything he released went Platinum or better and there wasn’t a concert venue big enough to hold him. But the Oklahoma native has always loved a challenge (and hated being bored), so he took a leap of faith that turned into a rare belly flop.

Brooks devised a fictional rock star and named him Chris Gaines, and without acknowledging that it was actually him underneath the black wig and soul patch, started a campaign to release an album titled Greatest Hits. The ambitious plot included a Saturday Night Live performance and was supposed to be tied in with a movie titled The Lamb, which starred Brooks and told Gaines’ back story, but public reaction of the character was not good. Critics panned it as a disorganized mix of tunes that felt like covers of actual rock groups, and fans were confused about what the project meant for Brooks’ country career. Eventually it just faded away and became a kind of unspoken joke, and the movie never being made. But every now and then, a rumor of Gaines’ revival pops up.

Fast forward to 2019 and many thought Brooks might do something to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Chris Gaines experiment, but alas, the superstar declined. In a recent interview with Billboard, though, Brooks said unequivocally that he’s not done with Gaines yet.

Speaking with the magazine ahead of tonight’s (October 14) Billboard Music Awards, where Brooks will perform a medley of hits and receive the coveted Icon Award, the hit maker was asked straight up if he’s ever considered reissuing the Chris Gaines Greatest Hits album.

“Trust me, it’s got a whole life of its own and it’s all coming,” Brooks said. “It won’t be anything predictable, I can guarantee you, because that’s kind of what that character’s thought process was. … If you know the greatest hits, they had to come from somewhere, if that tells you what’s coming.”

That mysterious promise is just tantalizing enough to make us wonder. Perhaps “Gaines” will release a new EP of “demo” recordings from his native Australia? Maybe he’ll do a collaborations album with with a bunch of big stars? And maybe one of those stars will be another fictional rocker, played by a real life Hollywood actor? Later in the interview, Brooks also admitted that he and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt have been talking about working together on some kind of “movie-themed” musical project. Could this be it? In typical Garth Brooks fashion, he’s keeping the details close to his chest.

“In Chris Pratt’s world, in movie world, I don’t know what I can say and what I can’t,” Brooks said. “All I know is, I love him to death and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, so I’m going to stay quiet and let him do the talking.”