A Friday night event is one that many folks have been anticipating for more than 17 years; the return of Garth Brooks to a concert stage in Tulsa.
For thousands of Oklahomans, the summer of 1997 is etched in magic. Garth Brooks performed five unforgettable concerts at driller's stadium and then, just three years later, pulled the plug on a career that had propelled him to international fame.
He stunned the music world when he announced his retirement in October of 2000; stepping off the stage, he said, to settle in with his family in his home in Owasso.
Flash forward 17 and a half years and Garth is back.
“What I'm going to love about this interview already is that you're not going to ask me about the last 13 years, because you know,” Garth said.
His presence became a simple fact of life in Green Country. He and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, were regularly seen at grocery stores, soccer sidelines and hometown football games.
It was his devotion as a dad that brought him home to Oklahoma, to raise his three young daughters.
“The thing was, you weren't gambling anything, because anybody who's ever been a parent, no matter how much I love music and no matter how sweet music has been to me, I'm sorry, it just cannot compare to being a dad,” Garth said. “But you're right, it was scary to kind of go, ‘Do we mention a tour? And what if nobody shows up?'”
Of course, he did have some encouragement.
Garth performed a number of benefit concerts while in retirement and he staged a three-year run in Las Vegas that was a wild hit with fans and critics alike.
One thing he hadn't done in more than a decade, however, was release new music.
“No one wants to hear new music from an older artist and you're scared to death to release it.”
So far, the gamble is paying off.
Man Versus Machine debuted in November at number one on the country charts and his new world tour sold more than 1 million tickets in less than four months.
Nowhere have sales been stronger than in Tulsa, where folks have been longing to see Garth on the stage since he cut the ribbon for the new BOK Center more than six years ago.
“It's just really sweet because of all the people you want to mean something to, you want to mean something to the state of Oklahoma. That's the greatest gift I can have,” said Garth.
Now that he's officially back in the business, we're likely to see less of him in these parts - his Owasso home is reportedly on the market for $3.5 million - but he returns to the stage in Oklahoma as more than just a star, he's a friend and a neighbor.
“So all the guys back in Owasso, Claremore and Tulsa, I can't wait for them to see the show because they're going to be going, ‘Who is this guy,' you know. They know me as a dad,” Garth said with a laugh.
With any luck, we won't have to wait 17 years for a return visit. He was born to be on stage, and now that he's back, he may just make a habit of it.
“We feel very, very lucky, very flattered to be where we're at. Looking at, hopefully, the second half of a career, it's been a pretty cool ride so far,” Garth said.
He said he loves to interact with the audience and let each city develop its own personality, and said he can't wait to see what's going to happen in Tulsa.
Garth's has news conference Friday afternoon at 2:30, you can catch the whole thing right here at newson6.com.