Merle Ronald Haggard was an American country singer, songwriter and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, characterized by the twang of the Fender Telecaster mixed with the sound of the steel guitar, vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville sound recordings of the same era. Haggard was born in Oildale, during the Great Depression, his childhood was troubled after the death of his father, he was incarcerated several times in his youth. After being released from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, he managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career, gaining popularity with his songs about the working class that contained themes contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of much popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which made the Billboard all-genre singles chart.
Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s. He received many honors and awards for his music, including a Kennedy Center Honor, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a BMI Icon Award, induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, he died on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday — at his ranch in Shasta County, having suffered from double pneumonia. Haggard's last recording, a song called "Kern River Blues," described his departure from Bakersfield in the late 1970s and his displeasure with politicians; the song was recorded February 9, 2016, features his son Ben on guitar. This record was released on May 12, 2016. Haggard's Flossie Mae and James Francis Haggard; the family moved to California from their home in Checotah, during the Great Depression, after their barn burned in 1934. They settled with their two elder children and Lillian, in an apartment in Bakersfield, while James started working for the Santa Fe Railroad.
A woman who owned a boxcar placed in Oildale, a nearby town, asked Haggard's father about the possibility of converting it into a house. He remodeled the boxcar, soon after moved in purchasing the lot, where Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937; the property was expanded by building a bathroom, a second bedroom, a kitchen, a breakfast nook in the adjacent lot. His father died of a brain hemorrhage in 1945, an event that affected Haggard during his childhood and the rest of his life. To support the family, his mother worked as a bookkeeper. At 12, his brother, gave him his used guitar. Haggard learned to play alone, with the records he had at home, influenced by Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams; as his mother was absent due to work, Haggard became progressively rebellious. His mother sent him for a weekend to a juvenile detention center to change his attitude, but it worsened. Haggard committed a number of minor offenses, such as writing bad checks, he was sent to a juvenile detention center for shoplifting in 1950.
When he was 14, Haggard ran away to Texas with his friend Bob Teague. He hitchhiked throughout the state; when he returned the same year, he and his friend were arrested for robbery. Haggard and Teague were released. Haggard was sent to the juvenile detention center, from which he and his friend escaped again to Modesto, California, he worked a series of laborer jobs, including driving a potato truck, being a short order cook, a hay pitcher, an oil well shooter. His debut performance was with Teague in a Modesto bar named "Fun Center", for which he was paid US$5 and given free beer, he returned to Bakersfield in 1951, was again arrested for truancy and petty larceny and sent to a juvenile detention center. After another escape, he was sent to the Preston School of a high-security installation, he was released 15 months but was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt. After Haggard's release, he and Teague saw Lefty Frizzell in concert. After hearing Haggard sing along to his songs backstage, Frizzell refused to sing unless Haggard was allowed to sing first.
He sang songs. Because of this positive reception, Haggard decided to pursue a career in music. While working as a farmhand or in oil fields, he played in nightclubs. Married and plagued by financial issues, he was arrested in 1957 shortly after he tried to rob a Bakersfield roadhouse, he was sent to Bakersfield Jail, after an escape attempt, was transferred to San Quentin Prison on February 21, 1958. While in prison, Haggard learned that his wife was expecting another man's child, which pressed him psychologically, he was fired from a series of prison jobs, planned to escape along with another inmate nicknamed "Rabbit," but was convinced not to escape by fellow inmates. While at San Quentin, Haggard started a brewing racket with his cellmate. After he was caught drunk, he was sent for a week to solitary confinement where he encountered Caryl Chessman, an author and death-row inmate. Meanwhile, "Rabbit" had escaped, only to shoot a police officer and be returned to San Quentin for execution. Chessman's predicament, along with the execution of "Rabbit," inspired Haggard to change his life.
He soon earned a high school equivalency diploma and kept a steady job in the prison's textile plant. He played for the prison's country music band, attributing a performance by Johnny Cash at the prison on New Year's Day 1959 as his main inspiration to join it, he was released from Sa
Waylon Arnold Jennings was an American singer and musician. In 1958, Buddy Holly arranged Jennings's first recording session, hired him to play bass. Jennings gave up his seat on the ill-fated flight in 1959 that crashed and killed Holly, J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens. During the 1970s, Jennings was instrumental in the inception of Outlaw country movement, recorded country music's first platinum album, Wanted! The Outlaws with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, Jessi Colter. Jennings began playing guitar at eight and began performing at 12 on KVOW radio, after which he formed his first band, The Texas Longhorns. Jennings left high school at 16, determined to become a musician, bounced around as a performer and DJ on KVOW, KDAV, KYTI, KLLL, in Coolidge and Phoenix, he formed a rockabilly club band, The Waylors, enjoyed a residency at "JD's", a club in Scottsdale Arizona. He recorded for independent label Trend Records and A&M Records, but did not achieve success until moving to RCA Victor, taking on Neil Reshen as manager, who negotiated better touring and recording contracts for him.
After wresting creative control from RCA Victor, his career turning point became the critically acclaimed albums Lonesome, On'ry and Mean and Honky Tonk Heroes followed by hit albums Dreaming My Dreams as well as Are You Ready for the Country. 1976's platinum certified Wanted! The Outlaws was followed by Ol' Waylon and the hit song "Luckenbach, Texas". Jennings was featured in the 1978 album White Mansions performed by various artists documenting the lives of people in the Confederacy during the Civil War; the songs on the album were written by Paul Kennerley. Jennings appeared in films and television series, including Sesame Street, a stint as the balladeer for The Dukes of Hazzard and singing the show's theme song and providing narration for the show. By the early 1980s, Jennings was struggling with a cocaine addiction, which he overcame in 1984, he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, which released three albums between 1985 and 1995.
During that period, Jennings released the successful album Will the Wolf Survive. He toured less after 1997 to spend more time with his family. Between 1999 and 2001, his appearances were limited by health problems. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. On February 13, 2002, Jennings died from complications of diabetes. In 2007, he was posthumously awarded the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music. Waylon Jennings was born on June 15, 1937, on the G. W. Bitner farm, near Littlefield, Texas; the Jennings family line descended from Black-Dutch. Meanwhile, the Shipley family settled in Texas; the Shipley line descended from Comanche families. The name on his birth certificate was Wayland, his name was changed after a Baptist preacher visited Jennings's parents and congratulated his mother for naming him after the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Lorene Jennings, unaware of the college, changed the spelling to Waylon. Jennings expressed in his autobiography, "I didn't like Waylon.
It sounded corny and hillbilly, but it's been good to me, I'm pretty well at peace with it right now."After working as a laborer on the Bitner farm, Jennings's father moved the family to Littlefield and established a retail creamery. When Jennings was eight, his mother taught him to play guitar with the tune "Thirty Pieces of Silver". Jennings used to practice with his relatives' guitars, until his mother bought him a used Stella, ordered a Harmony Patrician. Early influences were Bob Wills, Floyd Tillman, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Carl Smith, Elvis Presley. Beginning at family gatherings, Jennings advanced to perform at the Youth Center with Anthony Bonanno, followed by appearances at the local Jaycees and Lions Clubs, he won a talent show at Channel 13, in Lubbock, singing "Hey Joe". He made frequent performances at the Palace Theater in Littlefield, during local talent night. At 12 years, Jennings auditioned for a spot on KVOW in Texas. Owner J. B. McShan, along with Emil Macha, recorded Jennings's performance.
McShan hired him for a weekly 30-minute program. Following this successful introduction, Jennings formed his own band, he asked Macha to play bass for him, gathered other friends and acquaintances to form The Texas Longhorns. The style of the band, a mixture of Country and Western and Bluegrass music, was not well received. At age 16, after several disciplinary infractions, tenth-grader Jennings was convinced to drop out of high school by the superintendent. Upon leaving school, he worked for his father in the produce store taking temporary jobs. Jennings felt that his favorite activity, would turn into his career; the next year and The Texas Longhorns recorded a demo of the songs "Stranger in My Home" and "There'll Be a New Day" at KFYO radio in Lubbock. Meanwhile, he drove a truck for the Thomas Land Lumber Company, a concrete truck for the Roberts Lumber Company. Tired of the owner, after a minor driving accident, Jennings quit. Jennings, other local musicians performed at country radio station KDAV, it is during this time he met Buddy Holly at a Lubbock restaurant.
The two met during local shows, Jennings began to attend Holly's performances on KDAV's Sunday Party. In addition to performing on air for KVOW, Jennings started to work as a DJ in 1956, moved to Lubbock, his program ran from 4:00 in the afternoon to 10:00 in the evening. Jennings played
Adult contemporary music
In North American music, adult contemporary music is a form of radio-played popular music, ranging from 1960s vocal and 1970s soft rock music to predominantly ballad-heavy music of the present day, with varying degrees of easy listening, soul and blues, quiet storm, rock influence. Adult contemporary is rather a continuation of the easy listening and soft rock style that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s with some adjustments that reflect the evolution of pop/rock music. Adult contemporary tends to have lush and polished qualities where emphasis on melody and harmonies is accentuated, it is melodic enough to get a listener's attention, is inoffensive and pleasurable enough to work well as background music. Like most of pop music, its songs tend to be written in a basic format employing a verse–chorus structure; the format is heavy on romantic sentimental ballads which use acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitars, pianos and sometimes an orchestral set. The electric guitars are faint and high-pitched.
However, recent adult contemporary music may feature synthesizers. An AC radio station may play mainstream music, but it excludes hip hop, dance tracks, hard rock, some forms of teen pop, as these are less popular among adults, the target demographic. AC radio targets the 25–44 age group, the demographic that has received the most attention from advertisers since the 1960s. A common practice in recent years of adult contemporary stations is to play less newer music and more hits of the past; this de-emphasis on new songs slows the progression of the AC chart. Over the years, AC has spawned subgenres including "hot AC", "soft AC", "urban AC", "rhythmic AC", "Christian AC"; some stations play only "hot AC", only one of the variety of subgenres. Therefore, it is not considered a specific genre of music. Adult contemporary traces its roots to the 1960s easy listening format, which adopted a 70—80% instrumental to 20–30% vocal mix. A few offered 90% instrumentals, a handful were instrumental; the easy listening format, as it was first known, was born of a desire by some radio stations in the late 1950s and early 1960s to continue playing current hit songs but distinguish themselves from being branded as "rock and roll" stations.
Billboard first published the Easy Listening chart July 1961, with 20 songs. The chart described itself as "not too far out in either direction"; the vocalists consisted of artists such as Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, others. The custom recordings were instrumental versions of current or recent rock and roll or pop hit songs, a move intended to give the stations more mass appeal without selling out; some stations would occasionally play earlier big band-era recordings from the 1940s and early 1950s. After 1965, differences between the Hot 100 chart and the Easy Listening chart became more pronounced. Better reflecting what middle of the road stations were playing, the composition of the chart changed dramatically; as rock music continued to harden, there was much less crossover between the Hot 100 and Easy Listening chart than there had been in the early half of the 1960s. Roger Miller, Barbra Streisand and Bobby Vinton were among the chart's most popular performers.
One big impetus for the development of the AC radio format was that, when rock and roll music first became popular in the mid-1950s, many more conservative radio stations wanted to continue to play current hit songs while shying away from rock. These middle of the road stations frequently included older, pre-rock-era adult standards and big band titles to further appeal to adult listeners who had grown up with those songs. Another big impetus for the evolution of the AC radio format was the popularity of easy listening or "beautiful music" stations, stations with music designed to be purely ambient. Whereas most easy listening music was instrumental, created by unknown artists, purchased, AC was an attempt to create a similar "lite" format by choosing certain tracks of popular artists. Hard rock had been established as a mainstream genre by 1965. From the end of the 1960s, it became common to divide mainstream rock music into soft and hard rock, with both emerging as major radio formats in the US.
Soft rock was derived from folk rock, using acoustic instruments and putting more emphasis on melody and harmonies. Major artists included Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Bread; the Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts became more similar again toward the end of the 1960s and into the early and mid-1970s, when the texture of much of the music played on Top 40 radio once more began to soften. The adult contemporary format began evolving into the sound that defined it, with rock-oriented acts as Chicago, the Eagles, Elton John becoming associated with the format. Soft rock reached its commercial peak in the mid-to-late 1970s with acts such as Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Air Supply and Crofts, Dan Fogelberg and the reformed Fleetwood Mac, whose Rumours was the best-selling album of the decade. By 1977, some radio stations, notably New York's WTFM and NBC-owned WYNY, Boston's WEEI, had switched to an all-soft rock format; as Softrock
Hiram King "Hank" Williams was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, Williams recorded 35 singles that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one. Born in Mount Olive, Butler County, Williams relocated to Georgiana with his family, where he met Rufus Payne, who gave him guitar lessons in exchange for meals or money. Payne had a major influence on Williams' musical style, along with Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb. Williams would relocate to Montgomery, where he began his music career in 1937, when producers at radio station WSFA hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program, he formed the Drifting Cowboys backup band, managed by his mother, dropped out of school to devote his time to his career. When several of his band members were conscripted into military service during World War II, Williams had trouble with their replacements, WSFA terminated his contract because of his alcohol abuse.
Williams married Audrey Sheppard, his manager for nearly a decade. After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1947, he released "Move It on Over", which became a hit, joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. One year he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues" recorded at Herzog Studio in Cincinnati, which carried him into the mainstream of music. After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry, he was unable to notate music to any significant degree. Among the hits he wrote were "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin'", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". Years of back pain and prescription drug abuse compromised his health. In 1952, he divorced Sheppard and was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcohol abuse. On New Year's Day 1953, he died while traveling to a concert in Canton, Ohio at the age of 29. Despite his short life, Williams is one of the most celebrated and influential popular musicians of the 20th century in regards to country music.
Many artists covered songs Williams recorded. He influenced Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan, among others. Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Williams was born in Alabama, his parents were Jessie Lillybelle "Lillie" and Elonzo Huble "Lon" Williams, he was of English ancestry. Elonzo Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W. T. Smith lumber company, he was drafted during World War I, serving from July 1918 until June 1919. He was injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and suffering a severe blow to the head. After his return, the family's first child, was born on August 8, 1922. Another son of theirs died shortly after birth, their third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive. Since Elonzo Williams was a Mason, his wife was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, the child was named after Hiram I of Tyre, his name was misspelled as "Hiriam" on his birth certificate, prepared and signed when Hank was about ten years old.
As a child, he was nicknamed "Harm" by his family and "Herky" or "Poots" by his friends. He was born with spina bifida occulta, a birth defect, centered on the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain – a factor in his abuse of alcohol and drugs. Williams' father was relocated by the lumber company railway for which he worked, the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father began suffering from facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs clinic in Pensacola, doctors determined that the cause was a brain aneurysm, Elonzo was sent to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, he remained hospitalized for eight years, rendering him absent throughout Hiram's childhood. From that time on, Lillie Williams assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934, the Williams family moved to Greenville, where Lillie opened a boarding house next to the Butler County courthouse. In 1935, the Williams family settled in Garland, where Lillie Williams opened a new boarding house.
After a while, they moved with his cousin Opal McNeil to Georgiana, Alabama where Lillie managed to find several side jobs to support her children, despite the bleak economic climate of the Great Depression. She served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital, their first house burned, the family lost their possessions. They moved to a new house on the other side of town on Rose Street, which Williams' mother soon turned into a boarding house; the house had a small garden, on which they grew diverse crops that Williams and his sister Irene sold around Georgiana. At a chance meeting in Georgiana, Hank Williams met U. S. Representative J. Lister Hill while he was campaigning across Alabama. Williams told Hill that his mother was interested to talk with him about his problems and her need to collect Elonzo Williams's disability pension. With Hill's help, the family began collecting the money. Despite his medical condition, the family managed well financially throughout the Great Depression. There are several versions of.
His mother stated that she bought it with money from selling peanuts, but many other prominent residents of the town claimed to have been the one w
Johnny Cash was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, blues and gospel; this crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music and Roll, Gospel Music Halls of Fame. Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band characterized by train-sound guitar rhythms, a rebelliousness coupled with an somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, a trademark, all-black stage wardrobe, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black." He traditionally began his concerts by introducing himself, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," followed by his signature song "Folsom Prison Blues". Much of Cash's music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, redemption in the stages of his career, his other signature songs include "I Walk the Line", "Ring of Fire", "Get Rhythm", "Man in Black".
He recorded humorous numbers like "One Piece at a Time" and "A Boy Named Sue". During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, notably "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden. Johnny Cash was born on February 1932, in Kingsland, Arkansas, to Ray Cash and Carrie Cloveree, he was the fourth of seven children, who were in birth order: Roy, Margaret Louise, Jack, J. R. Reba and Tommy, he was of English and Scottish descent. As an adult he traced his surname to 11th-century Fife, after meeting with the then-laird of Falkland, Major Michael Crichton-Stuart. Cash Loch and other locations in Fife bear the name of his family. At birth, Cash was named J. R. Cash; when Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force, he was not permitted to use initials as a first name, so he changed his name to John R. Cash. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he started going by Johnny Cash. In March 1935, when Cash was three years old, the family settled in Dyess, Arkansas, a New Deal colony established to give poor families a chance to work land that they had a chance to own as a result.
J. R. started singing along with his family while working. The Cash farm flooded during the family's time in Dyess which led Cash to write the song "Five Feet High and Rising", his family's economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of his songs those about other people facing similar difficulties. He had sympathy for the poor and working class. Cash was close to his older brother, Jack. On Saturday May 12, 1944, Jack was pulled into an unguarded table saw at his high school while cutting oak into fence posts as his job and was cut in two, he lingered until the following Saturday. Cash spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over this incident. According to Cash: The Autobiography, his father was away that morning, but Johnny and his mother, Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day, his mother urged Jack to go fishing with his brother. Jack insisted on working. On his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of angels. Decades Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in Heaven.
Cash's early memories were dominated by gospel radio. Taught guitar by his mother and a childhood friend, Cash began playing and writing songs at the age of 12; when young, Cash had a high-tenor voice, before becoming a bass-baritone after his voice changed. In high school, he sang on a local radio station. Decades he released an album of traditional gospel songs, called My Mother's Hymn Book, he was significantly influenced by traditional Irish music, which he heard performed weekly by Dennis Day on the Jack Benny radio program. Cash enlisted in the United States Air Force on July 7, 1950. After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force Base, both in San Antonio, Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U. S. Air Force Security Service at Landsberg, Germany, as a Morse code operator intercepting Soviet Army transmissions, it was there he created his first band, named "The Landsberg Barbarians". He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant on July 3, 1954, returned to Texas.
During his military service, he acquired a distinctive scar on the right side of his jaw as a result of surgery to remove a cyst. On July 18, 1951, while in Air Force training, Cash met 17-year-old Italian-American Vivian Liberto at a roller skating rink in her native San Antonio, they dated for three weeks. During that time, the couple exchanged hundreds of pages of love letters. On August 7, 1954, one month after his discharge, they were married at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio; the ceremony was performed by Vincent Liberto. They had four daughters: Rosanne, Kathy and Tara. In 1961, Johnny moved his family to a hilltop home overlooking Casitas Springs, California, a small town south of Ojai on Highway 33, he had moved his parents to the area to run a small trailer park called the Johnny Cash Trailer Park. Johnny's drinking led to several run-ins with local law enforcement
Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer and songwriter. His integration of rock and roll elements into the country genre has earned him immense popularity in the United States. Brooks has had great success on the country single and album charts, with multi-platinum recordings and record-breaking live performances, while crossing over into the mainstream pop arena. According to the RIAA, he is the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States with 148 million domestic units sold, ahead of Elvis Presley, is second only to The Beatles in total album sales overall, he is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 170 million records. As of 2019, Brooks is now the only artist in music history to have released seven albums that achieved diamond status in the United States. Since 1989, Brooks has released 22 records in all, which include: 12 studio albums, two live albums, three compilation albums, three Christmas albums and four box sets, along with 77 singles.
He won several awards in his career, including two Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards and the RIAA Award for best-selling solo albums artist of the century in the U. S. Troubled by conflicts between career and family, Brooks retired from recording and performing from 2001 until 2005. During this time, he sold millions of albums through an exclusive distribution deal with Walmart and sporadically released new singles. In 2005, Brooks started a partial comeback, giving select performances and releasing two compilation albums. In 2009, he began Garth at Wynn, a periodic weekend concert residency at Las Vegas' Encore Theatre from December 2009 to January 2014. Following the conclusion of the residency, Brooks announced his signing with Sony Music Nashville in July 2014. In September 2014, he began his comeback world tour, with wife and musician Trisha Yearwood, which culminated in 2017, his most recent album, was released in November 2016. Brooks was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 21, 2012.
He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. Troyal Garth Brooks was born on February 1962, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was the youngest child of Troyal Raymond Brooks, Jr. a draftsman for an oil company, Colleen McElroy Carroll, a 1950s-era country singer of Irish ancestry who recorded on the Capitol Records label and appeared on Ozark Jubilee. This was the second marriage for each of his parents, giving Brooks four older half-siblings; the couple had two children together and Garth. At their home in Yukon, the family hosted weekly talent nights. All of the children were required to participate, either by doing skits. Brooks learned to play both banjo; as a child, Brooks sang in casual family settings, but his primary focus was athletics. In high school, he ran track and field, he received a track scholarship to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he competed in the javelin. Brooks graduated in 1984 with a degree in advertising, his roommate, Ty England played guitar in his road band until going solo in 1995.
In 1985, Brooks began his professional music career and playing guitar in Oklahoma clubs and bars, most notably Wild Willie's Saloon in Stillwater. Through his elder siblings, Brooks was exposed to a wide range of music. Although he listened to some country music that of George Jones, Brooks was most fond of rock music, citing James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Townes Van Zandt as major influences. In 1981, after hearing "Unwound", the debut single of George Strait, Brooks decided that he was more interested in playing country music. In 1985, entertainment attorney Rod Phelps drove from Dallas to listen to Brooks. Phelps liked what he offered to produce Brooks' first demo. With Phelps' encouragement, including a list of Phelps' contacts in Nashville and some of his credit cards, Brooks traveled to Nashville to pursue a recording contract. Phelps continued to urge Brooks to return to Nashville. In 1987, Brooks and wife Sandy Mahl moved to Nashville, Brooks began making contacts in the music industry.
Garth Brooks' eponymous first album was a chart success. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart. Most of the album was traditionalist country, influenced in part by George Strait; the first single, "Much Too Young", was a country top 10 success. It was followed by Brooks' first number-one single on the Hot Country Songs chart, "If Tomorrow Never Comes". "Not Counting You" reached No. 2, "The Dance" reached No. 1. Brooks has claimed that out of all the songs he has recorded, "The Dance" remains his favorite. In 1989, Brooks embarked as opening act for Kenny Rogers. Brooks' second album, No Fences, was released in 1990 and spent 23 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, became Brooks' highest-selling album, with domestic shipments of 17 million. It contained what would become Brooks' signature song, the blue collar anthem "Friends in Low Places", as well as other popular singles, "The Thunder Rolls" and "Unanswered Prayers".
Each of these songs