Garth Brooks’ Record-Breaking ‘Double Live’ Turns 25

On November 17, 1998, country superstar Garth Brooks accomplished a career first with the release of Double Live. The two-disc album served as the chart-topper’s first collection of songs capturing the magic of his lively, record-breaking concert performances.

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In an era before social media teases and New Music Friday streaming, the anticipatory buzz around the album’s arrival was immense. Double Live‘s arrival came at the tail-end of a massively successful decade for Brooks. 

A New Kind of Country Star

In the years leading up to this landmark release, the Oklahoma native had already shared seven hit studio albums. His modernized, pop- and rock-influenced version of old-school country music won over listeners worldwide. 

This era of incredible commercial success was driven further through Brooks’ energizing, theatrical live shows. Most country artists of the era kept their concert productions simple and straightforward. In contrast, Brooks drew inspiration from some of his favorite classic rock acts. Instead of standing behind a stationary microphone, he donned a wireless headset. 

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This unconventional setup gave Brooks the freedom to run and jump across the stage, offering fans a fun and unpredictable performance. His onstage antics—which included swinging across crowds while hanging from a harness and crowd surfing—transformed the country star into a true pop culture phenomenon.

Creating a Musical Time Capsule

Millions of fans who experienced Brooks’ shows firsthand were eager to relive those magical moments again. To appeal to those dedicated listeners, he compiled recordings of 25 songs performed on various dates of his massive world tour, which lasted from 1996–1998.

The two-disc release includes tracks plucked from throughout his musical catalog, along with three new tracks. Those previously unheard songs have since become Brooks standards, including his heartfelt tribute to his mother, “It’s Your Song.” Double Live also features “Longneck Bottle,” his playful collaboration with Steve Wariner, and “Wild as the Wind,” a duet with his future wife, celebrated country vocalist Trisha Yearwood

Familiar hits like “Unanswered Prayers” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” were featured alongside extended versions of “Friends In Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls,” which became staples of Brooks’ live shows.

Brooks’ Lasting Gift to Fans

Although Double Live got mixed reviews from critics upon its release, fans embraced the project with open arms. It immediately broke records, selling over a million copies in its first week—more than any other record in history. In 2001, Double Live became the best-selling live album ever, with more than 14 million copies sold. 

According to reporting by MTV News, an exclusive performance from Brooks was aired inside 2,000 Wal-Mart store locations across the U.S. on album release day. That promotion earned the store chain their “biggest day of music sales in the company’s history.” 

On November 14, just three days before its 25th anniversary, Double Live was certified 23x Platinum by the RIAA. Brooks is still a force on stage, performing at stadiums worldwide and breaking attendance records. Still, the buzz of excitement that permeated the shows, documented within the tracks of Double Live, is a feeling that’s impossible to recreate.

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

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