Garth Brooks talks about his idol, George Straight

When country’s biggest ego, er, star refused to release his new album last August, it seemed like a roll of the dice. Would Garth-mania dwindle after the Central Park concert hype died down? Not a chance. His lucky Sevens had a huge debut, scoring the second-highest first-week sales of the ’90s. While Garth’s albums go straight to the top of the charts now, in the early 1980s it was George Strait who ruled Nashville. Young Garth dutifully studied the MOR country hits Strait From the Heart and Strait Country.

”I’ve bought probably eight of each of those albums. I keep wearing them out. They mean that much to me. [Growing up] I didn’t know where I was headed. I knew I wanted to do music but didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. Then in 1980—my senior year in high school—I heard George Strait and my focus totally swung toward that. I’ve never gotten away from it. I can’t. I know there’s already one George Strait and nobody does it better than George. I give all these kids coming up that pump-’em-up pep talk: ‘Hey, there’s already one George, be yourself.’ The truth is, man, I want to be George Strait so bad I can taste it.”