The most stunning success story of the early Nineties contemporary country music boom was that of Garth Brooks. Blending rock and country influences, he is a singer/songwriter whose style owes as much to the influence of James Taylor as it does to George Jones. In performance, Brooks� high-energy stage show reflects his admiration for theatrical rock bands such as Queen and Kiss. Having sold more than 40 million albums since 1989, Brooks has easily outdistanced his competition. By 1992 a household name, Brooks also presented a new breed of wholesome, all-American country music hero -- one who defended homosexuals in a song ("We Shall Be Free," from 1992�s The Chase) and talked to Barbara Walters on national television about his past marital infidelity.
Brooks� mother had herself been a singer before marrying his father, a working-class draftsman. Both parents had children by former spouses; Brooks was the younger of two they had together. Brooks learned to play guitar and sing with his mother and joined a band during high school. His primary interest was sports, though, and he attended the state university on a track scholarship. Only after graduating did Brooks devote himself to music. He moved to Nashville in 1985, but found little luck there. After moving back to Oklahoma, marrying, and saving some money, Brooks decided to give Nashville another try. His persistence paid off when a Capitol Records talent scout spotted the singer in a club and signed him.