Garth Brooks was a prime mover in '90s popular music, almost single-handedly transporting country music from its niche into the mainstream, not to mention becoming the biggest-selling solo artist in pop history, with a total tally of some 128 million albums.
Brooks began singing in local clubs while attending Oklahoma State University, then moved to Nashville after graduating and eventually signed with Capitol Records. His 1989 self-titled debut included four Top 10 country singles, and in 1990 “No Fences” was an even bigger success. Brooks' catchy songs incorporated pop and rock elements, but retained a rural sensibility and everyman aura, and his crowd-pleasing concerts incorporated flashy, arena-rock dynamics.
Momentum faded late in the decade, as Brooks turned his attention to baseball (trying out for the San Diego Padres) and film (adopting a fan-confusing alter ego, Chris Gaines, for a movie that never was made). Brooks retired in 2001 to spend more time with his three daughters, and after a divorce from his first wife married singer Trisha Yearwood in 2005. In 2007 he returned with a string of sold-out concerts in Kansas City, Mo., and at Staples Center in Los Angeles. In 2009 he launched a series of solo acoustic shows at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel.