When it comes to country legends, Garth Brooks is among the names at the very top of the list. Since the early ‘90s, Brooks has been a trailblazer in country music and beyond, garnering a massive fanbase and shattering records like no one else. Since Brooks has been in the spotlight for so long, some may think they know everything there is to know about the superstar, but there may be some facts that still surprise fans. Here are 10 things you may not know about country legend Garth Brooks.
- His first name isn’t really Garth.
Although Garth Brooks has been a household name in music since the ‘90s, some may be surprised to learn that Garth isn’t his first real name. Garth is actually his middle name and his first name is really Troyal. The name comes from his father, Troyal Raymond Brooks Jr.
2. His mother was also a country singer.
It seems Brooks gets his singing talent from his mother, Colleen Carroll, as she also followed a career in country music. Carroll was signed to Capitol Records in the 1950s and often performed on the Ozark Jubilee.
3. His family encouraged his early talent.
Not only was his mother a singer herself, but she encouraged her children to explore their musical talents as well. As a child, Brooks’ parents held weekly talent nights at their home in Yukon, Oklahoma, and Garth, his sister Kelly and his four half-siblings were required to participate. Sharing their talent could include anything from singing to skits, but they all learned to play some sort of musical instrument.
“Friday and Saturday nights at the house, Jerry played guitar, Jim played the harmonica, Mike played guitar, Betsy played guitar, and, of course, Dad played guitar,” Brooks once told Playboy. “Mom sang her butt off, Dad sang, Betsy sang, Jerry sang, Jim sang, Mike sang. Kelly and I played the wax comb.”
4. He was an athlete and even dabbled in professional sports.
Although Brooks made his name in music, sports have always been a big part of his life. As a teenager, the singer played football, baseball and participated in track and field. He then attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater on a track scholarship, competing in the javelin. Then in the late ‘90s when his music career was well underway, Brooks decided to try his hand at professional baseball. He signed with the San Diego Padres in both 1998 and 1999, participating in their spring training. Later, he played for the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals during each team’s spring training.
5. He has an advertising degree.
While Brooks was attending Oklahoma State University on a track and field scholarship, he was also focused on his studies, but he wasn’t studying music. Instead, the singer majored in advertising and graduated with a degree in 1984. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t working on his music chops, though. It was in college that Brooks began surveying the local music scene in Oklahoma and formed his own band. After graduating, Brooks continued playing in the Oklahoma music scene before making the move to Nashville.
6. He has had some interesting jobs.
Every young person has to work his or her share of odd jobs before making in their respective industry, and Garth Brooks is no different. While he was in college working toward his degree and playing music, he worked as a bouncer at a local Stillwater, OK club called Tumbleweeds. After graduation and at the suggestion of entertainment attorney Rod Phelps, Brooks moved to Nashville. While his first move to Nashville in 1985 only lasted about 24 hours, the singer returned for good in 1987. When he first arrived, he worked as a manager at a store selling cowboy boots. According to his then-co-worker turned country artist Ken Mellons, Brooks would write songs while on the job and wrote his single, “Not Counting You,” in the shop.
7. He found his big break at a classic Nashville venue.
Garth Brooks’ story leading up to stardom is one that every aspiring Nashville musicians hopes to achieve for themselves. While living in Music City and working at the boot shop, Brooks was actively working towards his career by writing songs, singing on other artist’s demos and making contacts in the industry. He was even meeting with publishers and record labels, but wasn’t having any luck. In 1987, he auditioned to play at the now-famed Bluebird Café and started playing writer’s nights there. One night, he was invited to play a showcase after another artist backed out, and it was there that a Capitol Records A&R representative saw his show. He was signed to Capitol Records the next day.
8. He’s broken records held by The Beatles and Elvis.
In the early ‘90s, it was clear that Brooks’ star shone bright in the sphere of country music, and by the latter part of the decade, he had become one of the most successful artists in the world. To this day, Brooks holds on to this high status and is the only artist in music history to have nine albums that have been certified Diamond by the RIAA. The Beatles are second line with seven Diamond-certified albums. He’s also number two on the list of the best-selling artists in the United States, beating out Elvis Presley, who stands at number three, and falling behind The Beatles on this list.
9. His daughter is following in his footsteps.
Just like Brooks’ mother Colleen passed her love for music onto him, Brooks has done the same with his daughter, Allie Colleen, who bears her grandmother’s name. Allie is the daughter of Brooks and his first wife, Sandy, and started singing when she was about 14-years-old. She has experience singing backup for her dad and graduated from Belmont University in 2018. She has since released a handful of songs, including “Ain’t The Only Hell (My Momma Raised),” which made an appearance on the Mediabase chart.
10. His music has made it to outer space.
Not only is Garth Brooks one of the biggest artists on Earth, but his music has made it beyond our planet as well. In 1995, astronaut Colonel Bill McArthur brought his album, The Hits, with him when he went to the Russian Mir Space station. Then in 2017, Brooks and his wife Trisha Yearwood video chatted with two astronauts who were fans and even performed “The River” for them.