Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Kent Blazy shared on a recent episode of Mary Katz's Bored and Curious podcast that Garth Brooks' name was initially viewed as a negative by Music Row's decision-makers.
Blazy told the story while explaining the origins of his most famous co-write with Brooks, "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
"And so we wrote this song, and we thought it was a really great song," Blazy said. "Uh, Garth did a little guitar vocal in my studio that day, and we pitched it around town for, I don't know, maybe a year and nobody was interested in it and nobody was interested in him. They said, 'He'll never get a record deal with a name like Garth."
At least the young demo singer was going by his middle name instead his first name, Troyal. (Not that being called Sassafras would've halted Brooks' forward momentum once Capitol came calling.)
"So one night he got to play at [Nashville's Bluebird Cafe] and sing one song because another artist didn't show up," Blazy adds. "And somebody from Capitol Records who had passed on Garth for the third time that week heard him sing 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' and said, 'Hey, why don't you come back in? Maybe we missed something.' So he went back in to Capitol; got a record deal. And, 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' was his second single and his first No. 1 record. So, from when we wrote it, he was cleaning churches and selling boots. And the next thing you know, he's Garth Brooks."
Brooks went back to the Blazy songwriting well several times in the '90s, with the pair co-writing "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)," "It's Midnight Cinderella," "She's Gonna Make It" and "Somewhere Other Than the Night."
Additional Blazy compositions include George Jones' Brooks duet "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)" plus former American Idol contestant Danny Gokey's "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me," Chris Young's "Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song)," Jon Pardi's "Empty Beer Cans," Diamond Rio's "That's What I Get For Lovin' You," Patty Loveless' "Can't Get Enough" and Gary Morris' "Headed For a Heartache."
Blazy, a Lexington, Kentucky native, is a singer-songwriter in his own right and a former member of Canadian legend Ian Tyson's traveling band.