Garth Brooks is reflecting on his massive success ahead of receiving the Billboard ICON Award at this year’s Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday.
It was announced on Monday night that Brooks will be the first country artist to take home the coveted award, joining past recipients such as Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.
Since breaking onto the country music scene in 1989 with his first single “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”, Brooks has gone on to sell 159 million albums, making him the No. 1 selling solo artist in U.S. history, reports Billboard.
In an in-depth interview with the magazine about his latest accomplishment, the country superstar reveals why he will never run for president and teases the return of his former alter-ego, Chris Gaines.
Looking back at his controversial 1992 single “We Shall Be Free”, which addressed religious freedom and racism among other topics, Brooks admits he never cared that the message might have been too progressive for country radio at the time.
“I’m not running for president, so I don’t care what people as a whole think of me as an artist,” he says. “What I care about is, is this music that I’m getting to be a part of changing somebody’s life for the better? If you start trying to please everybody, then you’re just going to water yourself down.”
Brooks adds that he didn’t expect the backlash from “We Shall Be Free”, because “it was just common sense,” adding, “I just did a real feel-good song that was inspired off of what I was feeling pulling out of Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict and watching those fires and going, ‘Hey, man, everybody just settle down for a second and focus on loving one another.'”
Back in 1999, the country singer shocked fans with the introduction of Chris Gaines, an Australian rockstar alter-ego. The same year, he dropped a greatest hits album titled Garth Brooks in…The Life of Chris Gaines, which was originally supposed to be the soundtrack to a movie about Gaines’ life.
The singer has previously shut down the return of his alter-ego, but now tells Billboard fans they have not yet seen the last of him.
“Trust me, it’s got a whole life of its own and it’s all coming,” reveals Brooks. “It won’t be anything predictable, I can guarantee you, because that’s kind of what that character’s thought process was.”
Along with taking home the ICON Award, Brooks and his band will perform a medley of his greatest hits at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, airing Wednesday, Oct. 14.