When Garth Brooks held his oldest daughter, Taylor, in his arms for the first time in 1992, he was already one of the biggest superstars that ever existed. Brooks had just released his Ropin' the Wind album one year earlier, which became one of the best-selling records to date, of any genre, and had a long succession of No. 1 hits to his credit, including "The Dance," "The Thunder Rolls" and "Shameless." His career could only go one way – up – but Brooks was ready to slow down, and decided to do just that while holding his newborn in his arms.
"I said, 'Look, by the time you're 6 years old, that's when school starts, I'll be done,' " Brooks recalled to The Tennessean, speaking of his decision to retire. "I missed it by two years."
It wasn't until October of 2000 that Brooks officially made good on the promise, announcing his retirement the same month he announced he and his first wife, Sandy Mahl, were ending their marriage.
"I was getting divorced," the 57-year-old recounted. "Sandy is kind of doing my job and her job with the girls. If Sandy is doing her job, she's telling them, 'Hey, your dad loves you to death. He's just working, and he'll be home soon.' Well, I didn't have anybody to do that anymore."
The couple, who had two other daughters, August and Allie, may have divorced after 14 years of marriage, but Brooks and Mahl found a way to make sure they co-parented as well as possible, by having the girls go to one parent's house at 6 p.m., and the other parent picking them up for school the next day, and then switching the following day. Their plan, albeit unconventional, allowed each parent to see their daughters every day.
"They saw both their parents in the morning and both parents in the evening and for 14 years," boasted Brooks. "That's how we ran it because we knew it was right for those kids. If you did what was right for the kids, you were going to do what was right for you. It was simple."
Brooks might have never returned to work, if Steve Wynn hadn't reached out to Brooks about doing a residency in Las Vegas. Although Brooks was sure he would turn down the offer, he was intrigued when Wynn promised the singer that he would still be able to spend just as much time with his daughters.
"It was almost like, 'Well, good luck doing that. How the hell do you do that?'" Brooks recounted "And when the first thing he said was, 'We're going to have to get you your own plane,' I looked at Trisha and said, 'This guy is serious.'"
The Grand Ole Opry member did the residency for four years, but still didn't plan on returning to a rigorous touring schedule, and might never have even considered it if not for the gentle encouragement of his wife, Trisha Yearwood, after his three daughters grew up and moved away from home.
"I worship my girls," he said. "I just didn't know what I was gonna do with myself. The love of my life figured out it was hurting me. She said, 'Did you ever think about touring again?'"
Photo Credit: Getty / Erika Goldring