There’s a dazzling choice of superlatives available whenever you analyse the commercial achievements of Garth Brooks. One that leaps to the fore concerns his third studio album Ropin’ The Wind, which debuted atop both the US pop and country charts on 28 September 1991.
The statistic in question is based on the record’s RIAA certification of 1998, which gave it shipments in America alone of 14 million — or, to put it another way, an average of two million per year for its first seven years. They’re numbers that the bestselling artists of today can only dream of.
The follow-up to his previous, record-busting album No Fences, the 1991 set was once again produced by the superstar’s close collaborator Allen Reynolds. It included seven co-writes by Brooks, of which ‘What She’s Doing Now’ and ‘The River’ were both country chart-toppers. ‘Which One Of Them,’ written by Brooks on his own, was not on the original LP release but has appeared on subsequent reissues.
But perhaps the album’s best-remembered track is one that underlined how Brooks could unite the worlds of country and pop-rock. His cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Shameless,’ from the latter’s Storm Front release of 1989, topped the country chart for two weeks in November 1991. It was a tribute to one of his favourite artists. Here are the pair duetting on the song during Billy’s two-night stand at New York’s Shea Stadium in 2008:
By the end of that year, Garth’s incredible popularity as a live entertainer had seen him play to close to half a million people at 48 shows grossing more than $7 million. As Ropin’ The Wind continued along its spectacular sales path, it also won the Grammy Award for Male Country Vocal Performance, the CMA Award for Album of the Year and the Billboard Music Award for Top Country Album.
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