Thirty-two years ago today, on June 24, 1989, Garth Brooks made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. The then-27-year-old wept as he took the stage that night, only two months after his eponymous freshman album was released.
Brooks was apparently quite well received at the Opry, too. A little more than one year later, on Oct. 6, 1990, the country superstar was officially inducted into the hallowed institution, by musical legend Johnny Russell.
“To be recognized as a member [of the Grand Ole Opry] is among the class of honors that will never be topped, no matter how long or how far my career goes,” Brooks says of the honor.
Brooks’ temporarily retirement from music in 2001 to focus on raising his three daughters meant he didn’t make as many appearances on the Opry’s famous stage in the ’00s. Still, he was on hand in 2008 to induct fellow Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood into the Opry.
“It is a marriage, and it is a marriage that you try to uphold the best that you can,” Brooks tells The Boot of being an Opry member. “[Underwood is] from Oklahoma, which, to me, is the land of common sense. I think she gets it. The coolest thing she said was, ‘I know I didn’t come here by the conventional road.’ That was very cool, so I think she’ll love it and respect it enough.”
Brooks told Underwood during her induction, “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now. I cried like a baby the whole time.”
Brooks, who returned to touring in 2014 and made a surprise appearance at the Grand Ole Opry with his wife Trisha Yearwood in June of 2015, hints that he might spend more time at the Opry in the future.
“I want to do more stuff everywhere,” he says. “I want to do more stuff here. I’d love to play the Opry more. I know I owe them, and if they want it, they should have it.”
Brooks kept his word and, on Aug. 25, 2018, returned to the Opry for two sold-out shows. Even more notably, he was called back to perform an encore — which, according to staffers, made him the first artist ever to achieve this honor.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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