Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood are one of country music's strongest couples, but before Brooks found his forever with fellow superstar Yearwood when they married in 2005, he was married to his first wife, Sandy Mahl. Brooks and Mahl met at a bar near Oklahoma State University, where they both went to school. One night, while Brooks was working at the bar as a bouncer, he came upon a fight between two women, and one woman had gotten her hand stuck in the wall's wood paneling during the fight. The woman with her hand in the wall was Mahl, Brooks' future wife. The college sweethearts were married on May 24, 1986, and Brooks rose to fame with his debut album just three years later. The couple had three daughters together: Taylor Mayne Pearl (born 1992), August Anna (born 1994) and Allie Colleen (born 1996). Their youngest, Allie, is now a country singer/songwriter herself and has released music under the name Allie Colleen.
Throughout Brooks' marriage to his ex-wife, his career continued to rise to unimaginable heights. The two were divorced in 2001 after 15 years of marriage, and in the 2019 A&E documentary, Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On, Mahl confirmed that Brooks' busy schedule contributed to the issues they experienced.
"People constantly wanting your attention and yanking and pulling on him," she said in the documentary (quote via Good Housekeeping). "He'd be gone eight to 10 weeks at a time. He'd come home, [and] there would be number-one parties, or shows, or CMAs, or ACMs, American Music Awards, so it was constantly going. But we both grew apart really, really quickly."
"I don't think either of us had stopped to think about how this would change our lives," she added.
When Brooks heard the comments made by Mahl in the documentary, he was somewhat surprised, revealing that he did not hear those concerns when they were married. However, he reacted with admiration for Mahl and stressed that they are now in a good place.
"She was phenomenal," said the country music star, according to Us Weekly. "[I was] gone so much on the road [during our marriage], there were things I guess she was [trying to tell] me that I didn't hear until this biography. It's rare you get to hear the other side. I just saw her and I think I hugged her harder than I ever have now that I know things that either I didn't hear or that she didn't say until now."
While Garth Brooks' ex-wife lives out of the spotlight now, she is a talented songwriter and served as Brooks' co-writer on multiple occasions. Mahl helped Brooks co-write "I've Got A Good Thing Going" from his debut album, as well as his 1993 hit, "That Summer." These days, Mahl, who still goes by Sandy Mahl Brooks, serves as Wildlife Rehabilitator, Vice President, and Co-Founder of a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center in Oklahoma called Wild Heart Ranch. She and Brooks continue to co-parent their three daughters, and according to MSN, she overcame breast cancer in the mid-2000s.