You don’t have to live in Nashville to have heard of Garth Brooks or George Strait. They’re members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and two of the most famous names in country music.
Each has won multiple awards and spent time on the music charts during the 1990s. Many refer to George Strait as the “King of Country Music.” However, Garth Brooks fans have reason to believe Garth deserves the crown.
So who had the better career of these two country icons?
Let’s take a deeper look!
About Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks may have grown up in Yukon, Oklahoma, but he was destined for Nashville. Music runs in his family as his mom, Colleen Carroll, was a recording artist with Capitol Records during the 1950s.
He worked various jobs during college and still found time to perform in local clubs as often as possible. With Nashville in his future dreams, he landed his first performing gig at Opryland theme park. However, his dad urged him to finish his education before heading to Music City.
Garth graduated from college in 1985 and headed to Nashville. However, he quickly discovered it wasn’t for him. Brooks packed his things and went home to gain more experience, returning to the Music City in 1986 with a new understanding and motivation.
He signed with Capitol Records in 1988, released his first album in 1989, and had multiple chart-topping albums throughout the 1990s. His biggest hits include The Thunder Rolls, We Shall Be Free, and Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old.)
One of the most memorable moments in his career was performing in New York’s Central Park. The performance was in front of over 250,000 fans and millions more watched from the comfort of their homes as HBO broadcasted it live.
While Brooks retired from music in 2001, he returned shortly later in 2005. He continues to perform to this day, and there’s a chance his tour is stopping near you.
The Story of George Strait
George Strait was born in Poteet, Texas, a small town with less than 3,000 residents. He grew up on the family’s farm in Pearsall. He eloped with his high school sweetheart and enlisted in the army shortly after tying the knot.
While stationed in Hawaii, Strait joined an Army-sponsored band called Rambling Country. Upon returning to Texas, he formed his own group called Ace in the Hole. It became wildly popular amongst local Texans. The group struggled to secure a contract, but Strait won over MCA Records in 1981 for a solo contract.
Strait’s first single, Unwound, was from his first album Strait Country. It was different from the standard pop-influenced country music that many radio stations played at the time. However, it helped him garner a loyal following of fans.
He recorded multiple #1 albums, including Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, Something Special, Beyond the Blue Neon, and Strait From the Heart. Brooks also won multiple Country Music Association awards, and you can still catch his tunes on the radio waves today.
Garth Brooks’s Career Versus George Strait’s
To be fair, Garth Brooks and George Strait had careers that most musicians dream of having. While one may have sold more albums or had more number-one hits, they both left their marks on country music and the music industry as a whole.
Both artists hit the country music scene in the early 1990s and are still performing 30+ years later. George Strait has been performing in Las Vegas but announced a string of stadium shows in the United States for 2023. In addition, Garth Brooks is currently touring and has 28 shows planned for 2023.
Strait set and continues to hold several records in the music industry. His achievements include the most number-one albums and singles, gold albums, platinum albums, and multi-platinum albums in the history of the country music genre. Considering all music genres, he sits at 11th for the most number-one albums. If that’s not a successful career, we’re not sure what is.
Garth Brook’s career includes 23 albums. Like Strait, Brooks holds many records. He’s the #1 selling solo artist in American history. In fact, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified him with 157 million album sales.
He received the RIAA’s diamond awards for nine of his records, which all sold over 10 million copies. The Beatles are the only artists who have sold more albums than Garth Brooks. Again, an incredibly successful career that any musician would be happy to call their own.
Who Had More Number One Hits, Garth Brooks or George Strait?
While Garth Brooks may have sold many more records than George Strait, that’s not the case for number-one hits. George Strait sits at the top of the charts with a total of 44 number-one hits. On the other hand, Garth Brooks sat at the top of the charts 19 times. While George Strait has more number-one hits, 19 number-one hits from Brooks is still an incredible achievement.
However, many country music fans are quick to point out that Dean Dillion wrote many hit songs for George Strait. However, while George Strait may not have been as strong of a songwriter as Garth Brooks or other artists, he did his fair share of writing. He wrote songs like Unwound, The Chair, Here for a Good Time, and Ocean Front Property.
Who Is the Real King of Country Music?
Since these two had such massive careers, it’s hard to pick the king. This debate can be tricky, and both sides have valid arguments. Garth Brooks sold many albums, but George Strait had numerous number-one hits.
However, the fact that Garth Brooks sold the most albums and had more diamond-status albums than the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin is hard to overlook. In addition, Garth Brooks has a unique way of turning his live performances into much more than a country music concert. Each Garth Brooks concert is an exhilarating experience for Brooks and the audience.
So, Who Had a Better Career?
Garth Brooks and George Strait have left their mark on the music industry and are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They’ve inspired and continue to inspire musicians from all genres on and off the stage.
Both hold records and will likely maintain those records decades into the future. They raised the bar for what country music fans can expect from artists regarding albums and concert experiences and are still going 30 years later.
We declare it a tie. Who do you think had the better career? Let us know in the comments!