Garth Brooks takes Chris Gaines on media rounds
September 30, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- He's the top-selling solo artist in the United States, having moved some 95 million albums. But country music isn't enough for its shining star, Garth Brooks. He's decided to attempt a potentially risky dual-crossover into both acting and pop music: He's created a grunge-musician character for himself, Chris Gaines.
To promote the release of his CD "Garth Brooks in... the Life of Chris Gaines," Brooks played the role in an NBC special Wednesday night, singing several numbers "by" Gaines. He's to continue the media blitz with October appearances on the shows "The View," TNN's "Crook and Chase" and ABC's "Good Morning America."
The Gaines look -- for which Brooks, 37, doffed his hat, dropped some pounds and donned a goatee -- requires the careful attention of makeup artist Lance Anderson, who was key character makeup artist on the 1996 Marlin Brando-Val Kilmer film, "The Island of Dr. Moreau."
"With each video, (Gaines) starts to get more shape, to where you want him," Brooks told CNN Showbiz Today's Laurin Sydney. "We're still kind of creating him. We have a year before the movie, so he's right on target."
The story to come
Gaines, the lead character in a yet-to-be-made film "The Lamb," is a fictional rock icon who began his music career as a member of an '80s one-hit wonder band, went on to a Grammy-winning solo career and then mysteriously died.
Brooks' "Chris Gaines" album is designed as a tease to the film. It's a 14-song greatest-hits collection in which Brooks sings in the guise of Gaines.
He's approaching the project with some humility: "I surrounded myself with people that knew what hip and cool was," he tells The Associated Press, "since I don't." The album was a collaboration with veteran producer Don Was (he also worked with Brian Wilson, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan) and impresario Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. Much of the album was written by Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Simms.
Brooks has acknowledged that he put the first album together so that audiences could get familiar with the Gaines character before the movie, slated for a December 2000 release. But he says that passion, not marketing, is what's driving him on this project.
Work in progress
"It just happens to be something nobody has ever done before," Brooks says. "So like anything that we've got, we're always going to be called the marketing guy, or the phrase I like is the 'marketing bastard.' But, you know, it's all about the music, and that's going to be our friend on this piece -- word of mouth.
"So the big question is this: If we don't have the traditional first week, 'Garth Brooks week' that we've been so fortunate to have (in the past) -- is (the new album) going to be deemed a failure? I'm hoping that Chris gets a chance, like all new artists, gets to come out and then hopefully word of mouth gets around and he starts to pick up and gain speed, and starts to actually live and breathe like artists do."
According to reports Brooks has committed to releasing one more Gaines album, the soundtrack to "The Lamb." If both do well, he may also record the "first" five albums in the fictional Gaines discography -- including one that, according to the Capitol Records publicity jacket, is supposed to be full of the stormy rock outpourings of a young musician whose father died of cancer a year earlier.
The already-released Gaines album is certainly not typical Brooks fare, and Brooks knows it. "You try and respect the country format for what it's worked for and then pop for what it's worked for," he says. "I have respect for both formats.
"But the greatest thing, thank God, for me, is the music, because that's what it's all about."
Review: Garth faces new music
Official 'Chris Gaines' site
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