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Here's What We Learned From Garth Brooks About His Upcoming A&E Documentary

Billboard logo Billboard 11/19/2019 Taylor Weatherby

Garth Brooks die-hards around the world can't wait for Dec. 2, when the country legend will premiere his two-part biography The Road I'm On on A&E.

Two weeks before part one premieres, Brooks celebrated the upcoming bio with a kickoff event in New York City, which featured a special Q&A with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts (the singer's longtime friend) about the documentary, his life and career. And though the three-hour biography wasn't shown at the event, Brooks made it pretty clear that he's an open book.

Before sitting down with Roberts, Brooks chatted with Billboard on the red carpet. Check out a combination of what we gathered from our time with Garth and his chat with Roberts ahead of the premiere of The Road I'm On.

He learned the most from his ex-wife's appearance.

Brooks told Billboard that he didn't know who was going to be in the documentary or what they were going to be asked, and the most pleasant surprise was what his ex-wife, Sandy Mahl, had to say. "I was stunned how great she came off, and the things that she said about her children and about our life on the road," he said. He later told Roberts, "There were things she was telling me that I didn’t hear until this biography... We just saw her Saturday, and I think I hugged her harder than I ever have, because now I know things that either I didn’t hear or things that she can now say."

George Strait, James Taylor & Keith Urban's comments meant a lot.

Brooks told Billboard that he had a "wish list" of famous friends he hoped would be included in the doc, but didn't expect for all of his wishes to come true. "George Strait’s the reason why I do this, so hearing George Strait going, 'I took notice of him when I heard "Friends in Low Places." Hell of a song, and he sang the hell out of it.' When he said that, it was like, I’ll take all these awards I’ve been lucky enough to have my name on, put them over here and put that quote right there. That’s the sweetest thing on the planet, that’s the reason I’m in country music. James Taylor’s the reason I’m in music, and to hear him say, 'It’s about love, it all comes down to love,' that was big."

Keith Urban's comments also touched him. "When he says, 'When you think about Garth’s music, it’s just all in there. Everything is in there.' That made me feel good, because that’s what I was -- I was a melting pot, last of six kids, so all the early music got passed down into me. So it was pretty sweet."

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He has yet to see the full second half of the biography.

Though Brooks didn't say when he anticipates he'll see part two, he asserted, "There’s nothing you can do about it anyway whether you like it or not." But if it's anything like part one, he'll need more tissues. "The first half I cried like a baby," he told Billboard. "But I was very proud of my girls, very proud of Ms. Yearwood [wife Trisha Yearwood], very proud of their momma."

His relationship with his family hasn't changed despite his level of fame.

Following Roberts' discussion, a few fans had the chance to ask Brooks some questions. One asked if his family dynamic changed after his career took off, and the superstar was quick to admit that he was initially "the guy that thought more of myself than I should've," but his family's relationship has remained unchanged -- mostly because they've stayed the same despite having a famous relative. "We put the fun in dysfunctional," he said with a smile. "All it did was shine a light on our dysfunction in our family."

Brooks also complimented his siblings on their appearances in the documentary, particularly highlighting how his mom handled her interview. "They would ask Mom: 'I bet you're proud of your child, aren't you?' And her answer always was, 'Which one?'" Even more humbling, Brooks said his mom wasn't afraid to tell him, "Oh my God, you're fat!" "Nothing like coming home," he joked. "So yeah, I don't think [the fame] affected them."

Chris LeDoux is the reason his shows are such a spectacle -- and he passed the torch to *NSYNC.

Another audience question led to Brooks telling the story of country vet Chris LeDoux inspiring his larger-than-life shows when they played the (now-defunct) Cocky Bull honky tonk in Victorville, Calif., in 1990. After seeing the way the crowd reacted to LeDoux jumping over the drum kit to start the show and blasting off pyrotechnics in a bar, Brooks recalled, "It was a humble pie that I'll take seven servings of," he said, "because what it did was, it brought out the competitor in you."

He went on to explain that he had the same impact when he filled in for Madonna at the Billboard Music Awards (he didn't specify what year). "Here we come in off the top of the balcony flying into the thing with headsets," he remembered. "There's four or five sweet kids over there next to my brother Kelly, and they go, 'Dude, what's that he's singing on and how do we get them?' He introduced them to Foy Flyers [now Flying By Foy], and the next year at the Grammys, *NSYNC did [motions dance moves]. It's pretty cool to now get to be somebody that influences pop and rock stuff. You've got your audience out there, you want to bring them the cool sh-- first."

He still fanboys over superstars himself.

Though he's one of the biggest stars in the world, Brooks asserted to Roberts that he feels the same that his fans do when he gets the chance to be in the crowd. "When I was lucky enough to go see George Strait or Freddie Mercury with Queen, the whole time I'm hoping that Freddie Mercury just looks at me," Garth said. He mentioned that when he and Yearwood went to see Bruno Mars for Yearwood's birthday last year, "The whole time I'm just hoping he's gonna look at me for three seconds so I can go, 'Dude, every time we have people over, we play your stuff! It's so much fun, thank you for it.'"

That outlook enhances his experience as a performer too. "You're onstage, and you're looking for those people that have a connection, and all you want is three seconds to go, 'Thank you. Thank you for my life. I get to do this, and it's because of you. Thank you for my children's college, thank you for everything that you've done for me. It's a wonderful exchange."

He's ready to sit back and let Trisha Yearwood be in the driver's seat.

Brooks has never been shy about his love for Trisha Yearwood. But when Billboard asked about what he plans to do next, now that he's locked down his record-setting seventh entertainer of the year CMA Award and has this documentary coming, his answer was as devoted as ever.

"First and foremost, Ms. Yearwood didn’t retire, but she cut everything back to raise those kids for me and their momma," he said. "So when we came back out, I asked for four years of her life on the Comeback Tour. So this is her time, she’s touring now. She can do whatever she wants, and then when she’s done, we’ll take a look at where we are."

2022 could be the biggest year of his career.

He may be letting Yearwood have her time, but Brooks is seemingly already making big plans for the future. After telling Roberts a similar sentiment about Yearwood, Brooks hinted, "If people keep showing up, the summer of '22 will be the biggest summer of our life. It's coming. And if we get to pull it off, for the first time ever in my life, I'll look at [manager] Bob Doyle and go, 'I don't know where we go from here.'"

And in his humble Garth Brooks way, he declared, "I don't know why it keeps happening, I'm just thankful that it does. And if it all ends today, God thank you very much, I have nothing to complain about. And if you hear me bi--- at all, you just slap me."

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