Troyal Garth Brooks (yes, that’s his real name) is the second best selling solo artist in United States history, behind only the King himself, Elvis Presley. Hard to believe? Using tracking by the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA, for short), as of June 2012, Presley‘s total sales rank at 134.5 million albums versus 128 million for Brooks. Both men are surpassed in record sales only by the Beatles.
So how did a country artist hit it so big? Brooks‘ eponymous first album (released in 1989) combined rock and country to bring a sound that appealed to more American than its traditional country counterparts, making Garth Brooks hit No. 2 on the country charts and No. 13 overall. In today’s music world, country crossover is to be expected. In the late 1980s, Brooks was one of the first artist to achieve massive success in many different arenas.
With six albums at diamond status (selling at least ten million units), Brooks has released 19 records and 77 singles and won two Grammy Awards and 17 American Music Awards (including an award for being the “Artist of the 90s”). Though retired from music in the early 2000s, Brooks continued to sell millions of albums through exclusive distribution deals with Walmart – one of the first artists to arrange such a deal. Today, Brooks is completing a five-year residency at the Encore Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October of 2012.