Great Garth! Terry Hood's Exclusive Interview

Wednesday, February 6th 2008, 6:10 pm
By: News On 6

He's the best selling solo artist in U.S. history, he redefined the sound of country music and fans will still travel thousands of miles just to see him play, but there's a decent chance you'll run into him at the gas station some day. Of course, we're talking about Oklahoma's own Garth Brooks. He came out of retirement last month for one spectacular weekend, and News On 6 anchor Terry Hood and News On 6 photojournalist Michael Woods were there for all the hoopla.

Garth Brooks' concerts are legendary for their energy, style and flat out good time. The country music superstar may be officially retired, but not much has changed.

"The only difference between me in Oklahoma and me in L.A. is I'm already tanned and I got my hair dark," laughed Garth Brooks.

Brooks hasn't actually been on tour since 1998, but these last few months have been like old times. In November, he played nine sold out shows in Kansas City as part of an agreement with Wal-Mart, then in January the smoke of a distant fire called him to L.A. Brooks was asked to do a benefit concert for California firefighters, his response, five concerts at the Staples Center in two days, with a fundraising goal of $10 million and a record breaking 85,000 tickets sold in less than an hour.

"I cannot believe it. I have never seen Garth Brooks and my son for Christmas bought me tickets, and he called me and I cried all the way in my car," said one Garth fan.

For those who weren't so lucky, CBS aired the first hour of the concert, drawing over eight million viewers nationwide. For Brooks, the weekend of shows became an endurance test.

"He's doing two shows tonight and three shows tomorrow, he's amazing," said one California Garth fan. "Like we really appreciate it because we're both from Southern California and it's awesome that he came here."

No one had ever even tried to do five concerts in one weekend at the Staples Center, but Garth didn't stop there! Along with the concerts and a news conference, he spent hours doing satellite interviews and took time for private meetings with other folks in the industry. Shawn Parr is a disc jockey with Go Country FM in Los Angeles; he says his listener's response to Garth was overwhelming.

"It's almost like a miracle that somebody would actually do something like this," disc jockey Shawn Parr said. "But that's Garth. You never have any limits when it comes to a guy like Garth Brooks."

Garth Brooks is the first to admit that after seven years of retirement all this attention feels pretty good.

"On behalf of the crews, the band and especially myself, thanks for letting us come back to the great state of California to play our music," Garth Brooks said during one of his benefit shows.

But that doesn't mean it will last. Brooks says it was part of his divorce agreement with his ex-wife Sandy that he would retire and live near her folks in Owasso. At the time, their daughters were 4, 6 and 8-years-old.

"Honestly, I hate to say this, but in 2000, I looked across the table when it was just me and them, I didn't know them and that was hard," said Garth Brooks. "We've traveled a long road."

These days you're more likely to find Garth at a soccer field than a recording studio. He and Sandy both have houses on a big chunk of property near Owasso; still his life is hardly ordinary. Among other things, he's now married to country music star Trisha Yearwood, who's joined the clan in Owasso. A move Garth admits made him just a little nervous.

"Here's the big question, this is Sandy's town, how are they going to treat Miss Yearwood? And they have taken her in like their own, they treat her great and Trisha and Sandy get along great," Garth Brooks said.

Now that his personal life is in harmony Garth finds his music filled with a new purpose, and that's where the California firefighters come in.

"We all grow up with get a real job. I'm starting to understand that this job, that is supposedly not a real job and you're not living in the real world, is doing some pretty hellacious stuff in the real world. It makes you proud," said Garth Brooks.

With all his talent, with all his fame, Garth Brooks says his greatest gift is simply being the guy next door. And that guy will never retire.

"As long as you get up every day, as long as God gives you the breath to get up every day then you've got things to do," said Garth Brooks.

And for all his proud Oklahoma neighbors he has this to say.

"I gotta tell you, you guys can't be as proud of me as I am of being from Oklahoma," Garth said.

Garth was asked about the possibility of playing at Tulsa's new BOK center, and unfortunately, it doesn't sound too promising.  Although, he says he would be honored to have some kind role in the grand opening next fall.