Country Throwback: Garth Brooks Whips Crowd into Frenzy with ‘Friends in Low Places’ at 2014 Show

by Suzanne Halliburton

Garth Brooks had extra incentive to work the Chicago crowd, especially performing one of his classics “Friends in Low Places.”

Brooks always is a showman. But in September 2014, he was also trying to shake off his touring rust. He’d been mostly retired from performing, except for some special events, since 2000. But then Brooks decided on a comeback. And his first tour kicked off outside in Chicago.

Check out his performance, then on the other side, we’ll give you some more details, including how much Garth Brooks was paid.

Garth Brooks announced in July 2014, that he was out of retirement. Brooks signed with Sony Music Nashville and said he was going on a world tour. Later that month, tickets went on sale. And wow, did they sell quickly. Brooks scheduled the tour to start in Rosemont, at the 18,000-seat Allstate Arena.

The prices were a pedestrian $57, nothing extreme. For just his Chicago stops, the tour sold 180,000 tickets in less than three hours.

The city agreed to pay Brooks $1 million for all the shows. This was in addition to all the other profits Brooks would pocket. The city also allowed Brooks to rent the area for $40,000 per show.

Everyone left happy. Brooks grossed $12 million for his Chicago-area stops. And the city made $2 million. His ticket sales for just the Chicago area stops broke the North American record.

Before his first Chicago performance, Garth Brooks did an interview with radio station WUSN. He was asked what he missed most

“The faces,” Brooks said. “I miss them, I miss looking out and seeing them singing. You look out there, and you hope to see the faces you remember. And I gotta tell you, I’ve seen those, but the other half are faces I’ve never seen, and they’re kids. And kids that know all the words to every song.”

Maybe that’s why Garth Brooks was so extra playful during “Friends In Low Places.” It’s a crowd favorite, anyway. Brooks sings, then eggs on the crowd to join him. Everyone knows the words.

Garth Brooks released the song way back in 1990. Two songwriters sent him the demo the year before, back before Brooks wasn’t a huge name. The songwriters knew Brooks from when Brooks sold shoes in Nashville, trying to make ends meet.

Huge hit doesn’t begin to describe “Friends in Low Places.” The song spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. It won single of the year from both the CMAs and ACMs.

In his live performances, Brooks always likes to joke about a third verse. But the third verse is basically the same as the second. It’s all just more opportunity to sing along with Garth Brooks.

Brooks also changed the way he did business in conjunction with the Chicago stops. He released all his songs on digital for the first time and made them available on GhostTunes, his own online music store.

It was all more access to terrific songs and performances like “Friends In Low Places.”