One of music's biggest stars got his start on "the strip" in Stillwater in the 1980s. On Friday night, he performed on The Strip in Las Vegas and began a new chapter in his life.
Garth Brooks, undoubtedly a living legend, played the final show of his stint at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas, and it was shown live on CBS to nearly 7 million households. Even in front of millions, the Oklahoma boy with big personality has a way of making it seem like an intimate concert.
For the last three years, Brooks has been splitting his time between his home in Oklahoma and his sellout one-man show in Vegas. He said it has been a combination of the two things he loves most -- being a dad to his three daughters and performing music. He also recently welcomed his first grandchild to the world.
Brooks' first album was released in 1989, and it is estimated sales of his albums have topped 220 million. He has released 19 records in all. Brooks is the second bestselling solo artist after Elvis Presley.
In 2001, he officially retired from recording and performing to spend time with his girls and his wife, Trisha Yearwood. He announced he was coming out of retirement to play exclusively in Las Vegas in Oct. 2009.
What's he going to focus on after the finale concert? Being around for his youngest daughter's senior year of high school in Owasso, he says.
"Once that's over, me and Ms. Yearwood's kind of got our lives ahead of us, and we don't know what we'll do," Brooks said. "But I hope music plays a huge, huge part in the future for me is pretty much all I can tell you for right now."
He admitted he was a little nervous about CBS carrying the concert live since he was having to cut out about an hour of his regular show to make it fit television time.
One thing's still true nearly 25 years after his launch into stardom: Brooks knows how to entertain and he wears Oklahoma on his sleeve for the world to see.
With his love Yearwood watching with pride, Brooks performed his usual music and comedy routine, showing off his country charm to the national audience. He even waxed poetic about his alma mater and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, honing his storytelling skills between tunes. The superstar opened up about his family life and sampled his musical heroes, which range from Merle Haggard and George Jones to Otis Redding and Simon and Garfunkel.
He ended by performing his blockbuster love song "Shameless," and he dropped his acoustic guitar to his side to sing a portion of it a cappella.
During his encore, he mentioned Willie's Saloon on Stillwater's strip, the college-town honky tonk where he got his start.
"[At Willie's], we'd always pick an anthem to end on," he said.
So he strummed his acoustic guitar once again and serenaded the TV audience with Billy Joel's "Piano Man."
"If you're a 19-, 20-year-old kid singing in this bar, and you're thinking, ‘can I ever be a part of something like that -- a song that's played at every frat party… college football stadiums?'" Brooks said, looking back to the time when he was only dreaming of success. "So, in honor of Willie's Saloon, let's all join together and sing this song right here."
Then, with a little help from his friends in the audience, they all sang "Friends in Low Places," the hit that vaulted Brooks into infinite stardom and is the reigning theme song for road trips and barroom shenanigans everywhere.