Why Garth Brooks’ Feature Film Never Got Off the Ground
Garth Brooks conceived one of the most ambitious projects in country music history when he planned to star in a feature film called The Lamb, but the film never ended up getting made, despite — or perhaps because of — an enormously elaborate marketing campaign designed to help pave the way.
Brooks was slated to play a fictional rock star named Chris Gaines in The Lamb, which was supposed to be a thriller about a huge Gaines fan who was trying to prove that Gaines was murdered. He introduced audiences to the character by releasing an album that he called a "pre-soundtrack" titled Garth Brooks Presents ... In the Life of Chris Gaines in September of 1999. Brooks altered his appearance to portray Gaines on the cover of the album, which featured Brooks as Gaines singing pop and rock songs instead of country. He actually scored a No. 5 pop hit with "Lost in You," and the album reached No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. But a series of unusual promotional appearances helped to scuttle the plans for a film to follow.
Brooks filmed an episode of the VH1 docu-series Behind the Music for Chris Gaines, featuring him as the character and commentary from real-life music industry insiders including a straightfaced Billy Joel. The episode was presented as fact instead of fiction, as was Brooks' appearance as Gaines on Saturday Night Live, where he hosted the show as himself but performed in character as Gaines.
Some fans found those appearances offputting, and the fact that the Chris Gaines character came complete with an almost bizarrely intricate backstory also made somewhat of a strange impression. While the Chris Gaines album was a commercial success, it still sold far fewer copies than a typical Garth Brooks album, making further investment in the idea of Brooks as Gaines a questionable idea. The project came and went within a year, and Brooks would return to his usual country sound for his next studio album, 2001's Scarecrow. The whole Chris Gaines episode would eventually fade into legend as one of the more eyebrow-raising projects in Nashville history, but it ended up doing Brooks no permanent damage.
Did you know Brooks has also turned down roles in several movies that went on to be blockbusters? The Chris Gaines character and its aftermath were the subject of a recent episode of The Secret History of Country Music, a video series that uncovers some of country music's greatest untold stories. Every Monday, Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar reveals the hidden stories behind country music's biggest hits, moments and artists.
Carrie Underwood, Eric Church and Garth Brooks are among the artists already featured, with many more to come. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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