At a time when country music was at an all-time low in popularity and relevancy, Garth Brooks burst on the scene in the 1980s and 90s like a cannon ball. Brooks' canny combination of country, rock, and pop music helped this genre regain its lost popularity and made him a millionaire in the process.
The continued presence of country on the pop charts uses Brooks' musical formula to make pop stars out of unlikely singers. Exactly how much money did it earn Brooks along the way? Let's take a look at his fascinating career to learn more about how it has progressed.
Garth Brooks Net Worth
Garth Brooks, along with his long-time wife Trisha Yearwood, are country music legends and some of the richest people in the music business. The two are currently worth about $400 million, with about $300 to $350 million of that money coming from Brooks many album sales.
In a world where Brooks no longer records or tours, it can be hard for younger readers to fully understand just how big he was in the industry. Looking at his sales numbers can reveal the truth about his amazing dominance and the way that he transformed the music world forever.
First, Garth Brooks has released six albums that have been certified as diamond. That means that each of these albums sold 10 million copies. In a world of streaming and downloading, it is impossible to imagine those kinds of sales even for the biggest pop artists in the world.
Put another way, Brooks is the best-selling solo album artist in the United States with 148 million record sales and is the second best-selling artist of all time. Brooks has sold over 200 million albums around the world and tops Elvis and is just behind the Beatles in sales.
Why Garth Brooks Sold So Many Albums
Country music had never been one of the most respected or listened to music styles in the world. Previous to Brooks, country artists rarely sold millions of albums and played fairly low-key music rooted in folk music tradition and down-home personalities. Even big names like Johnny Cash kept their music fairly simple and rarely tried to compete directly with pop or rock music.
Garth Brooks changed all that when he came on the scene. Brooks had grown up listening to traditional country music and had a heavy love of the genre. However, Brooks also came from a generation where rock was the most popular music on the radio. He has an admitted love of KISS and other classic rock bands, as well as an enjoyment of catchy pop hooks and big-stage performances.
His Experiment Worked
Brooks was years ahead of his time in combining the sincerity and authenticity of country music with the energy and presentation excitement of rock. Brooks wasn't afraid to make his music exciting and fast-paced and toured huge stadiums in a way other country musicians didn't do at the time. This made his music bigger-than-life and, when combined with pop hooks, made it sell well.
Brooks was also smart enough to know the importance of image and presentation. Where other country musicians simply played music and sang about who they were, Brooks has written character songs and paid close attention to his image. If you can find a picture of Garth Brooks without his trademark black cowboy hat, it likely took a lot of careful searching online.
When Country Blew Up Behind Him, Brooks Stayed Relevant
Brooks' almost immediate success as an artist created a country renaissance of similar musicians trying to ride his coattails. Almost overnight, country became one of the most dominant forces in pop music. People who would have scoffed at singing along with Willie Nelson were now wearing cowboy boots and square dancing. It was a cultural phenomenon not unlike Beatlemania.
In spite of the success of artists like George Strait, LeAnn Rimes, Tim McGraw, and even Billy Ray Cyrus, Brooks stayed the top selling artist. Seven of his albums topped the Billboard 200 Charts on their debut, an amazing feat no other country star could top. Millions of his albums sold heavily, including his infamous Walmart deal in which he sold his albums exclusively at the chain for just $5 each.
His albums surged in sales around the 2005 deal but never quite caught up with The Beatles, as his stated goal as an artist was to outsell that British institution.
Brooks did all this by continually pulling in outside influences and transforming his career in unexpected ways. For example, he was one of the first country musicians of his era to openly admire writers like Billy Joel, Elton John, and James Taylor. However, there was one infamous experiment that didn't quite pan out for the otherwise continually successful musician.
The Legendary Chris Gaines Blunder
By 1999, Garth Brooks had mostly ridden one career success to another without fail. While his sales had dipped slightly, he was still selling millions of copies every year. However, it was in that year that Brooks announced his intention to record a rock album. That in and of itself wasn't too surprising because Brooks had always been open about his love of rock music.
However, Brooks' plan went far beyond simply recording a rock album. He created an alter ego, Chris Gaines, including a lengthy career in an alternative universe that featured multiple albums by this rocker. Brooks changed his appearance, growing his hair out slightly longer and growing a short beard or soul patch. He even appeared on TV shows as Gaines performing his “greatest hits.”
The Strangess of Gaines
That's because Gaines' debut album was recorded as a fictional “Greatest Hits” (the album's name) collection that gathered material from Gaines' alleged career. The plan was to include multiple albums as Gaines, including a movie with a soundtrack and much more. There was even a VH1 Behind the Music episode about a musician who never had or never would exist.
Fans were confused and the press unimpressed. Gaines' album was a middle-of-the-road collection of heartland rock not far removed from Brooks' country music. Did this episode impact Garth Brooks net worth much? It's hard to say, but the album only sold about two million domestically.
While any other artist would likely be happy with these numbers, they were far below expectations and Brooks' previous sales success. As a result, The Chris Gaines Experiment was quietly retired and no follow-up album was released. Not long after, in 2000, Brooks announced his retirement.
Brooks Early Life
Garth Brooks was born Troyal Garth Brooks and was the son of Troyal Raymond Brooks and Colleen McElroy. He grew up in Tulsa Oklahoma and often performed in his family's weekly talent shows. His mother, a modestly successful country singer, held these performances to entertain her children.
During high schools, Brooks not only enjoyed singing but played sports like football, baseball, and javelin. He earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State University for track and field and earned a marketing degree when he graduated. For fun, he started singing in local bars in 1985.
Brooks then moved to Nashville in 1987 and started performing in the area, opening for Kenny Rogers after his debut album released in 1989. His clever writing style connected with country musicians and his second album, No Fences, topped the chart in 1990 and Garth Brooks net worth exploded.s
Why Garth Brooks Retired
Though Brooks had some struggles in life, including the Chris Gaines album and his divorce in 1999, his retirement in 2000 took many by surprise. The superstar was still incredibly popular and successful and selling millions of albums a year. Why would he retire in his prime? For Brooks, it was primarily a personal matter, as he had decided to go out on top while he still had a major audience.
Furthermore, he had decided it was time to retire to focus on his family and had actually promised his two daughters that he would retire in 2000. Though the decision was a hard one and he struggled at first to accept leaving the scene, he has since said that the over 20 years of his retirement have been the best years of his life and he's happy that he went out when he did, rather than lingering for decades longer.
Performing After Retiring
That said, the performing bug didn't leave Brooks entirely. After marrying Trisha Yearwood in 2005, he has performed a few times, including nine sold-out shows in Nashville in 2010. We'll talk more about this charity performance in the next section. However, Brooks also had a brief Las Vegas residency between 2009 to 2012 but found flying back and forth from the shows to his home in Tennessee was too difficult.
In 2014, Brooks started a world tour that lasted until 2017 and later started a stadium tour in 2019 that brought his brand of popular country music back to major audiences. So, while Brooks has never recorded after his retirement in 2000, he has sporadically performed and even released box sets collecting his work and vinyl releases of his albums for the new vinyl craze.
Real Estate Investments and Charity Work
Garth Brooks net worth numbers took a huge dip in 1999 when he divorced his first wife, Sandy Mahl, later to marry Trisha Yearwood. The two had been together a long time and the divorce settlement was not cheap. Reports claim that he spent at least $125 million on Mahl alone, outside of any legal resources. Combined with the hype and failure of Chris Gaines around the same time, Brooks was in trouble.
Brooks later held a “comeback” tour that helped him recoup these loses and much more. After this tour, he retired in 2000 and hasn't recorded since. While he's done a few shows here and there over the years (often for charity), he hasn't done any significant music making and seems content to spend time with Yearwood. However, the two are also canny and skilled real estate investors after retiring.
For example, Brooks and Yearwood sold a $3.5 million home in Oklahoma and a $7 million home in Malibu in 2014 so that the two could relocate to Tennessee. Brooks had purchased a 19.8-acre lot in that state in 1990 for just $432,500 and converted into a 5,551-square-foot home that's worth far more than that now. These investments show that Brooks is an intelligent financial expert in many realms.
Brooks also allegedly owns the Layby Hotel on Holmes Beach in Florida, a property worth $8.825 million. Brooks also owns a bar in downtown Nashville, spending $48 million on the property to turn it into a classic honky-tonk bar. Such investments have continually increased Garth Brooks net worth estimates.
Helping Those In Need
Beyond making great money as a songwriter and performer and in real estate, Garth Brooks has also worked heavily for charitable causes. Brooks comes from a rather modest background and understands how hard it is for people to survive on limited funds. As a result, he has devoted much of his career pre- and post-retirement supporting charities that are close to his heart.
For example, Brooks started the Teammates for Kids Foundation in 1999 to help young children participate in various sports. Brooks has also supported Habitat for Humanity and provided funding for Thailand to recover from the tsunami that struck the area many years ago. Brooks also performed nine concerts in Nashville in less than a week to raise $5 million to support those affected in the 2010 Nashville disaster.
Many of Brooks' other charitable donations have been kept quiet because he doesn't want to gain publicity for them simply for giving money. As a result, it might be hard to estimate just how much he has given to various causes over the years. Clearly, Brooks cares about his community and tries to do what he can to ensure that people who need help get it and can thrive in various ways.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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