Garth Brooks Explains Why He Hugged Every Former President at the Biden Inauguration

Garth Brooks delivered a stirring a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace" during the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20. But if you caught a few giggles in the audience after the country legend's performance, it was because Brooks was caught hurrying off the stage and up the steps later than expected. But there was a very sweet, very Garth reason for the delay. Blame it all on his roots.

Following his performance, Brooks made sure to shake hands and hug President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as well as all former presidents and first ladies in attendance.

The "Friends in Low Places" singer became a one man hugging machine, greeting former Vice President Pence, Brack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Finally, Brooks spotted George W. Bush and Laura Bush in the audience and hurried over to hug them before hurrying off stage, causing audience members to chuckle.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Brooks explained why it was important for him to greet every former president and first lady on stage that day. Apparently, it all started with former president Barack Obama, who stopped the "Friends in Low Places" singer with a quick greeting of "How ya doin,' Garth?"

"I hugged his neck," Brooks told The Washington Post. "Hugged Miss Michelle....As I'm hugging Miss Michelle, there's the Clintons — so I go over and hug them and tell them I love them. Then I hear this voice go, 'Hell, you love everybody.' I look over and there are the Bushes. Now, 41 — Jiminy Christmas, I worship that man and I worship his family. So I go hug them."

Brooks reflected on the day, remembering his concern over holding up proceedings on a national stage.

"And now I'm holding things up. It's like, 'Oh, crap!' So you just try and run as fast as you can and get out of there," Brooks continued. "It's gotta be some kind of record. I don't know who has hugged that many presidents in that short of time."

Read More: Garth Brooks on Following Jimmy Carter's Path: 'Nobody Cares about 'Republican' or 'Democrat' in Heaven'

Brooks announced he'd be performing at the inauguration on Monday, Jan. 18, stating that the appearance was not a political statement.

"This is a great day in our household. This is not a political statement. This is a statement of unity," Brooks announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Brooks made another call for unity during his inauguration performance.

"I'm going to ask you to sing this last verse with me," Brooks said. "Not just the people here, but the people at home, at work as one. United."

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez also performed during the inauguration.

Brooks isn't the only country artist taking part in Inauguration Day. Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard will perform during a primetime inauguration TV special.


This article was originally published on Jan. 20, 2021. It was updated on May 13, 2021. 

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