After a full decade spent (mostly) out of the spotlight, Garth Brooks, country music’s all-time best-selling artist, appears to be throwing his cowboy hat back into the ring.
The star, 51, who has had six albums earn Diamond certification for sales exceeding 10 million copies, famously stepped away from his career in 2001 to focus on raising his three daughters from his previous marriage to college sweetheart Sandy Mahl — and to enjoy Oklahoma life with fellow country star Trisha Yearwood, whom he married in 2005.
Brooks has often said that he would not record or perform new music full-time until his youngest daughter turned 18. (Though he did send the forgettable single “More Than A Memory” to country radio in 2007 to promote his Greatest Hits collection.) That daughter, Allie, is now 17 years old and set to graduate high school in 2014.
Perhaps that explains why Brooks emailed his fans last week with the cryptic message “The sevens have aligned. It has begun… Thank you for believing… love, g,” and why his website currently features little more than a storm cloud and the words “It has begun…” fading in and out on the right-hand side. The vague memorandums sent the Nashville rumor mill spinning with speculation that Brooks is prepping a major career comeback.
And those rumors intensified yesterday when CBS announced that it would broadcast the final show of Brooks’ three-year weekend residency at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29. According to reports, the TV special is a stepping stone to bigger developments in 2014 — namely, a new album and a headlining tour.
Despite his semi-retirement over the past 12 years, demand for Brooks’ music has remained remarkably strong. His aforementioned 2007 promotional single “More Than A Memory” remains the only song in country history to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. In 2008, he had to expand his concert at Kansas City’s Sprint Center to nine dates due to demand. Those shows, set between Nov. 5 and Nov. 14 of that year, sold out in under two hours.
He’s also sold millions of physical copies of his back catalog due to an exclusive distribution deal with Wal-Mart, which he inked in 2005. Brooks’ total album sales have now reached over 128 million, which is more than The Beatles, and second to only one man: Elvis Presley.