Rewinding the Charts: In 1991, Garth Brooks Lassoed History


The No. 1 Billboard 200 debut of 1991’s “Ropin’ the Wind,” the first No. 1 start by a country act, put the star on track to becoming the best-selling artist of the Nielsen Music era.

GARTH BROOKS MADE HISTORY ON SEPT. 28, 1991, when his third album, Ropin' the Wind, debuted atop the Billboard 200: the record became the first country title to bow at No. 1. It also dethroned Metallica's then-five-week-old eponymous album. No small achievement: The latter recording has gone on to become the best-selling album – 16,969,000 million copies – in the United States since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in May 1991.

After moving 300,000 in its first week, Ropin' the Wind has sold 9.6 million to date and ranks as the best-selling country album by a male artist. Most remarkably, Brooks, then 29, achieved these milestones without the benefit of crossover airplay. Rather, it was his electric live concerts and a string of modern country classics from his first two albums, Garth Brooks and No Fences, that helped rocket his third album to No. 1, and propelled country radio to new ratings highs in the early 1990s.

Ropin' the Wind, which yielded five Hot Country Songs top 10 singles, including the No. 1s "Shameless" (written by Billy Joel), "What She's Doing Now" and "The River," became the first of nine No. 1 albums that Brooks would land on the Billboard 200. With 72,375,000 million albums sold in the U.S. since 1991, Brooks is the best-selling artist of the Nielsen era, ahead of runners-up The Beatles, with 69,983,000 million.