by Alison Bonaguro
On Wednesday night (Oct. 14), Billboard declared what millions of Garth Brooks fans have known since 1989. He is a true icon.
Now it’s just officially official. At this year’s Billboard Music Awards in Los Angeles, Brooks took home the award that was created in 2011 to honor outstanding artists who have achieved excellence in the recording studio and on the road. The first year, the award went to Neil Diamond. After that it was Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Brooks is the first country artist to take the trophy home.
Even though the award wasn’t a surprise, Brooks still seemed humble and grateful as he shared his thoughts with the viewers at home. “If I had to thank one person — or one entity — it would be God Almighty, because through Him all things are possible,” Brooks said before thanking his longtime manager Bob Doyle, his whole team, the love of his life Trisha Yearwood, his three daughters, and country radio. “Country radio: you gave me this,” he said. “And to all those people who fill those stands, thank you. Thank you for my life.”
— Billboard Music Awards (@BBMAs) October 15, 2020
— Garth Brooks (@garthbrooks) October 15, 2020
Ahead of the show, Brooks sat down with Billboard to talk about the road that led him here.
“My hardest day of work in this business never felt like work,” Brooks said. He is the No. 1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, with sales of 159 million albums. “The blessing in this (pandemic) curse is my love for getting to play music goes so beyond anything that’s got to do with making money. You kind of need to find that out, because in this business, they overpay you. I miss it so badly. I miss the people. I miss the band and crew. But I miss what happens when the people and the band and crew all get together.
“That beautiful two hours. It feels like three minutes. It’s just fabulous.”
Luke Combs was also at the Billboard Music Awards, where he performed one of his newest songs “Better Together.” Kane Brown, Swae Lee and Khalid collaborated on a performance of their “Be Like That.” And Brooks performed a medley of his hits from the past 30 years, book-ending it with signature songs “The Thunder Rolls” and “The Dance.
See the full list of country winners at the Billboard Music Awards:
Luke Combs won top country artist
Combs won top country male artist
Maren Morris won top country female artist
Dan + Shay won top country duo/group
George Strait won top country tour
Combs’“What You See Is What You Get” won top country album
Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber “10,000 Hours” won top country song
“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus won top hot 100 song
Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.