Garth Brooks is one of the most successful artists in the world, and is the number one-selling solo artist of the 20th century. He celebrates his 57th birthday on Feb. 7, and after all these years, there might be a few things even his biggest fans don't know about him.
Brooks began performing in 1985, eventually building one of the biggest careers country music had ever seen before retiring in 2001 to take care of his three children. He returned to the stage in 2009, and is currently preparing to head out on a stadium tour and release a new album. He's a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has won two Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards and 18 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Read on for some facts you definitely didn't know about Brooks!
He's known as Garth around the world, but the moniker is actually Brooks' middle name — his first name is Troyal, after his dad. Brooks' parents had each been married before, and he had four half siblings as well as his full sister, Kelly. The family made sure each member developed performing talent by holding weekly talent nights where participation was required for every child, whether it be singing or performing a skit. It was during this time that Brooks learned to play the guitar and banjo.
Brooks began honing his skills by performing in Oklahoma bars, and entertainment attorney Rod Phelps drove from Dallas to hear him in 1985. Phelps was impressed and offered to produce Brooks' demo, and urged him to move to Nashville. With a list of contacts from Phelps and a few credit cards, Brooks made the move to Music City but got scared and headed back to Oklahoma one day later.
The singer met his first wife, Sandy Mahl, when he was a bouncer during his senior year of college and had to kick her out of the bar for being unruly.
“My job was to escort people out that caused disturbances,” Brooks recalled. “She beat me about nine times close to hell that night, too. I finally got her outside and I just kept noticing how cute she was...I asked her out. She told me to drop dead.”
Brooks and Mahl ultimately moved to Nashville in 1987, one year after their marriage, and divorced in 2001.
Brooks was heavily focused on athletics when he was younger, playing football and basketball and running track and field. He ultimately went to college on a track scholarship and threw javelin, graduating with a degree in advertising in 1984. In 2011, he received his Master of Business Administration from the university.
Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are now one of country music's power couples, and their relationship was solidified in a deservingly epic fashion when Brooks proposed to his wife on stage during a show in Bakersfield, California in front of 7,000 people.
"They were unveiling statues at Buckle Windon's place and they — for some reason had picked like the top whatever men in country music and for some reason we were confused enough to be in that group," Brooks told King of the proposal. "And so when we were making the statue, I already had the ring."
"And I put the ring on for the statue mold so that this ring is on that statue. Because they said, this thing is going to last for 200 years and I thought, 'Well, there it is, that's the way to ask.' Because when I pointed up and said these things are going to last 200 or 300 years, there is the ring. And it was so good and I'm so glad she said yes. That would have been pretty embarrassing there."
Brooks is a fan of most foods, save for grits and boiled peanuts. Along with eating, he also loves to nap, counting it as one of his favorite hobbies during a 2010 interview with Larry King.
"I love to eat," he said. "You know, my resume, before I got my music job, when it says, you know, name your favorite hobbies. Eating and napping always was mine and never could find a job doing that. So, but now I finally have."
While Yearwood is more well known for her cooking out of the pair — she has her own show on the Food Network as well as several cookbooks and a product line — Brooks also has some skills in the kitchen.
Yearwood told Today that she's a fan of her husband's breakfast bowl, which combines eggs, bacon, sausage and biscuits in a bowl, as well as his pasta salad, which features tortellini, cheese and olive oil.
"He does a lot of warm, yummy comfort food," she explained. "When I cook, I like to go off of a recipe, but he likes to experiment and figure it out based on what’s in the kitchen."
What better way to kick off #GARTHatND!!September 29, 2018
The Oklahoma native isn't the only singer in his family, as his mom, Colleen McElroy Carroll, was a recording artist with Capitol Records in the '50s under the name Colleen Carroll. Colleen released several singles on the label and regularly performed on Ozark Jubilee, passing her love of music on to her children. Colleen passed away from cancer in 1999.
Like many artists, Brooks had a small-time job before he hit it big, selling boots. According to Brooks' boot shop co-worker and songwriter Ken Mellons, it was during that job that the star wrote his first hit song, penning the Top 5 track "Not Counting You" in between working with customers.
Brooks has since helped pen many of his massive hits, including "The Thunder Rolls" and "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
Photo Credit: Getty / Terry Wyatt