Garth Brooks has racked up countless accomplishments in his over 25-year-long career. From No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts to best-selling country albums, the superstar who can still sell out cities and stadium tours from Las Vegas to Texas has become one of the most decorated artists in U.S. history (seven albums have reached diamond status, making him bigger than The Beatles). His experiment as "Chris Gaines" didn't negatively affect his rise to the top of the music world.
He's A Country Superstar
The "Friends in Low Places" and "The Thunder Rolls" singer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is one of the biggest solo artists in Nashville. He's also one of the top-selling recording artists in the United States over other celebrated singer-songwriters like George Strait. Did we mention the country singer has two Grammy Awards and 17 American Music Awards? He's also won the CMA Awards' Entertainer of the Year multiple times and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Through all his successes, the country star has kept the same band his entire career and maintained beautiful friendships with those band members. In fact, Brooks will tell audiences that "the rookie" on his tour has only been with him for 21 years.
It's Been Mostly The Same Band Since Day 1
Think about it. The man started out playing in bars and moved on to playing six sold-out shows in one city before doing the same in another. Through all the tours and new albums, Brooks has managed to keep the same group around him for it all. That speaks volumes about Brooks, and it speaks volumes about the talent behind him. He even invited Oklahoma State University classmate Ty England to join his band as a guitarist on his first album, but England left to pursue his own solo album after a few years.
He's Got A Talented Group
Drummer Mike Palmer has been with Brooks for one of the longest amounts of time, going back to the days in the bars when Brooks needed musical support. On his rise to fame, Brooks took Palmer along for the ride, remembering where he came from and who helped him every step of the way -- literally. The same can be said about the string-strumming expert, Bruce ("Bruuuuuuce") Bouton; a musician Brooks has had by his side since 1989, lending his steel guitar skills to Brooks' debut album. Mark Greenwood is another founding member of the Brooks band, playing the bass on several of Brooks' award-winning albums.
Few fiddle players hold a candle to "The Rookie," Jimmy Mattingly. Mattingly has been with Brooks for a short 21 years. Mattingly has also shared the stage with Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, lending an enormous amount of talent and energy to any show of which he is a part. Dave Gant plays the fiddle and keys and was a 1992 addition to Brooks' band after an introduction at the Grand Ole Opry.
Background vocalists Vicki Hampton and Robert "Bob" Bailey have sung behind the record-breaking country music phenomenon since the early '90s. The two, who also lent their locals to Wynonna Judd, have quite the list of credits to their names; although, the stars always seem to align where they end up right back with Brooks -- a place they unquestionably belong.
Guitarist Johnny Garcia has been on the road with Trisha Yearwood for 25 years. As luck may have it, Brooks merged the two bands in 2000 when he merged lives with Yearwood (after ending his marriage with first wife Sandy Mahl), and Garcia has now been sharing the stage with the Garth Brooks family for 16 years. Keyboard player, Steve Cox, also came to Brooks through the Yearwood merger, and third background vocalist, Karyn Rochelle, was added to the "Wall of Sound" through another strong Yearwood endorsement.
The moral of the story: the Garth Brooks World Tour is more than work for those on stage. It's a true family affair.
This story originally ran in 2018.