Chris Stapleton defended Garth Brooks’ ill-fated alter-ego Chris Gaines during a light-hearted moment on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Stapleton appeared on the comedian’s show to promote his chart-topping new album From A Room: Volume 2.
While Stapleton describes the liberating feeling of creative freedom, Rogan brings up “when Garth Brooks put on that wig and pretended to be that other dude.” Rogan, a professed Brooks fan, continued joking about a part of the “Friends in Low Places” singer’s career that found him drifting “way off the reservation.”
Stapleton balked at a chance to mock the Chris Gaines character or anything else about Brooks’ illustrious career. “Who am I to judge anybody, particularly someone who’s as successful as he is?” Stapleton said.
Instead, Stapleton speculated that Brooks’ alter-ego might have been his only shot at experiencing a different level of stardom. “At the time he did that, he had to be into ‘what in the world else can I do?’,” Stapleton says. “‘The only way I can become more successful is if I become someone else and make them successful.’ Like, he was so successful, and still is in that space, that he can’t be any bigger than he is.”
Brooks unveiled the Chris Gaines moniker in 1999, portraying a troubled rock star from Australia. He looked vaguely Goth and portrayed a sex addict in a Behind the Music “mockumentary,” despite performing a glorified take on AM pop gold that hardly matched his new image.
As Stapleton points out, a planned film about Gaines, titled The Lamb, never came to fruition. Brooks’ lone album as Gaines, The Life of Chris Gaines, debuted at number two, but its overall sales numbers sealed the character’s fate. Around 700,000 of the 3 million copies shipped to distributors sold between the album’s Sept. 28, 1999 release date and the following April. Those sales figures sound impressive today, but it was a big setback back when Brooks’ CDs sold by the millions.