Remember When Capitol Records Passed on Garth Brooks?
Garth Brooks is the best-selling solo artist in the history of music, but when he first auditioned for Capitol Records in Nashville, the label simply wasn't interested.
Brooks moved from Oklahoma to Nashville to take his shot at music stardom, but his first year in town was one rejection and disappointment after another, with Brooks working a retail job between gigs and his first wife, Sandy, doing clerical work. Brooks thought he'd finally caught a break when his manager, Bob Doyle, landed him an audition with Capitol Records in 1988.
Brooks played several of his songs for Capitol staffers, including label head Jim Foglesong and Lynn Shults, the head of A&R, after which they passed on the young singer-songwriter. But that wasn't the end of it.
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Weeks later, a discouraged Brooks was set to take part in a writer's round at the world-famous Bluebird Cafe. He was slated to play ninth, but the writer who was supposed to play second didn't show, and Brooks went on in that slot instead. Shults was there that night, and it was his first chance to see Brooks in front of a real audience. One of the songs Brooks performed that night was "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
"Lynn Shults of Capitol Records was there to see the guy who never showed up," Brooks recalls. "He saw Garth Brooks instead. When my performance was over, Lynn was waiting offstage. What he said to Bob and me would change my life forever. He said, 'Maybe we missed something here. Come to the label tomorrow. Let's talk.'"
Capitol signed Brooks on June 17, 1988 for an advance of $10,000, and released his self-titled debut album in April of 1989. The album's first single, "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," reached No. 8, followed by back-to-back No. 1 hits with "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "The Dance." Brooks went on to become not only the biggest act at Capitol Nashville, but by far the biggest artist in country music.
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