If you really want to know who an artist really is, you just talk to his tour bus driver. Driving down the road in the middle of the night on some lonesome highway, the most common thing is for the artist to sit in the jump seat next to the driver and discuss the “issues of life,” mostly out of sheer boredom from the long drives.
Back in 2006, when Garth Brooks was off the road, I was the tour manager for Pepe Aguilar, out of Mexico City, a very Popular Spanish singer who had a very large tour entourage. I hired the buses and drivers who had worked with Garth in the late nineties, up until his retirement from the road in 2001.
Sitting in the same jump seat I heard all the stories about Garth, after months of touring with Pepe, I felt like I really knew who the man Garth Brooks was. There is no doubt how well he was respected by his entire crew, the stories of his kindness and concern for everyone on his tours never ended.
Interview with People Magazine last year:
Yet Brooks, 53, insists fame and success simply pales in comparison to the years he spent away from the spotlight, raising his three daughters, Taylor, 22, August, 20, and Allie, 18, from his first marriage, to Sandy Mahl.
“People said, ‘How could you walk away from music?’ ” he says. “But being a dad – there’s nothing that can touch that.”
Not that the adjustment was always easy. After he and Mahl divorced and his mom Colleen died of cancer in 1999, Brooks settled in with his daughters in a one-bathroom bunkhouse on his ranch in Oklahoma.
At first, “I’d just stare at them,” he says. “I knew their sweet faces and their dispositions. But I didn’t know who they were.”
The singer’s solution was to mix discipline with fun, and he flourished as his days were filled with packing school lunches (complete with handwritten notes), chores on the ranch and after-school activities from soccer games to school plays.
“You start being a part of the community,” he says. “The dads across the soccer field looked at me as a dad just like them. And I was very grateful.” The time also taught him valuable lessons as a father.
Kids, he says, “are the greatest joy and the greatest heartache you’ll ever have. The saying is, as long as your babies are healthy, everything else you can deal with. If they have D’s, if they flunk, you deal with it. You can introduce them to the Lord, teach them manners, teach them to believe in themselves, but the truth is, they’re going to be who they’re going to be.”
Brooks admits his return to touring full time has helped him face an otherwise troubling empty nest.
Now that all three girls have graduated high school, “I am in the period now where I think I pray more than I ever have in my life,” he adds. “Because for some reason when they were under my roof, I felt like I might have had some control, you know?”
Touring with “Miss Yearwood,” as he affectionately calls her, has made all the difference.
“Thank God I’m with the love of my life,” he says. “That’s why I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
Garth’s World Tour with Trisha Yearwood that begin on September 4, 2014, in Rosemont, Illinois, the tour is Brooks’ first in thirteen years after coming out of retirement. It launched in support of his 2014 studio album, Man Against Machine.
As of March 2016, the tour is in its fourth leg, having covered cities throughout the United States and Canada. The North American portion of the tour is expected to last through 2017, and shows in Europe, Australia, South America, and more are scheduled to follow.
High demand has prompted multiple concerts to be added in each city, with Brooks performing two shows per night in some cases. Despite only being in its fourth leg, the total number of past and announced shows for the tour has already broken the record for the most all-time concerts in a tour (Brooks also held the previous record from his 1996–98 world tour). Statistically, the tour is on track to generate attendance and revenue well above the highest-grossing concert tours in the world.
Tribute to our good friend Dick Clark by Garth and George: