Feb. 7: Garth Brooks is 49 today.

Troyal Garth Brooks was born in 1962 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His mother, Colleen Carroll, was a 1950s-era country singer who appeared on Ozark Jubilee. At their home in Yukon, Oklahoma, the family hosted weekly talent nights. All of the children were required to participate, either by singing or doing skits. Brooks learned to play both the guitar and banjo during this time.

Through his elder siblings, Brooks was exposed to a wide range of music. Although he listened to some country music, especially that of George Jones, Brooks was most fond of rock music, citing James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, and Townes Van Zandt as major influences. After hearing Unwound, George Strait's debut single, in 1981, Brooks became a fan of country music.

Garth's first love growing up was athletics. In high school, he played football and baseball and ran track and field. He received a track scholarship to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he competed in the javelin. Brooks graduated in 1984 with a degree in advertising.

Later that year, Brooks began his professional music career, singing and playing guitar in Oklahoma clubs and bars, particularly the Tumbleweed in Stillwater. In 1985, noted entertainment attorney Rod Phelps drove from Dallas to listen to Brooks. Phelps liked what he heard and offered to produce Garth's first demo.

With Phelps's encouragement, including a list of Phelps' contacts in Nashville - and some of his credit cards - Brooks traveled to Nashville to pursue a recording contract; he returned to Oklahoma within 24 hours. Phelps continued to urge Brooks to return to Nashville, which he did.

In 1987, he and his first wife moved to Nashville, and Brooks began making contacts in the music industry. (The couple divorced in 1999. Garth Brooks remarried on December 10, 2005 to fellow country singer Trisha Yearwood.)

His self-named first album was released in 1989 and peaked at #2 in the US country album chart while climbing to #13 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart.

Brooks' integration of rock elements into his recordings and live performances has earned him immense popularity. This progressive approach allowed him to dominate the country single and album charts while quickly crossing over into the mainstream pop arena, exposing country music to a larger audience.

Brooks has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in popular music history, breaking records for both sales and concert attendance throughout the 1990s.

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Brooks still continues to sell well and according to Nielsen Soundscan, his albums sales through end 2010 are approaching 70 million which makes him the best-selling albums artist in the U.S. since SoundScan started in 1991;  well over 6 million ahead of his nearest rival, The Beatles.

Also, according to RIAA, he is the second best-selling solo albums artist in the U.S. of all time behind Elvis Presley (overall is third to the Beatles and Elvis Presley) with 128 million units sold.

Brooks has released six albums that achieved diamond status in the United States, those being: Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin' the Wind, The Hits, Sevens and Double Live.

Since 1989, Brooks has released 19 records in all, which include; 9 studio albums, 1 live album, 4 compilation albums, 3 Christmas albums and 2 box sets, along with 77 singles.

He won two Grammy Awards, 16 American Music Awards (not including the poll of "Artist of the '90s") and the RIAA Award as Best selling solo albums artist of the Century in the United States. As of 2010, Brooks' world-wide sales now exceed 200 million.

To devote himself to family life, Brooks officially retired from recording and performing from 2001 until 2009. During this time he continued to sell millions of albums through an exclusive distribution deal with Wal-Mart and has sporadically released new singles.

In 2005, Brooks started a partial comeback, and has since given several performances and released two compilation albums.On October 15, 2009, Garth Brooks announced the end of his retirement. In December 2009, he began a 5 year concert deal with the Encore Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.