Garth Brooks showed why he was this year’s recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award with a buoyant medley full of hits spanning his 30-year career.
With footage of 80,000 fans from his past stadium shows flashing behind him, Brooks and his band opened with “The Thunder Rolls” before segueing into snippets of “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” “The River,” “Standing Outside the Fire,” “That Summer,” “Dive Bar,” “Friends in Low Places,” and “The Dance.”
Prior to his performance, Cher, the 2017 Icon Award recipient, presented the award to the country superstar, reeling off his accomplishments, including 19 No. 1 songs on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and 17 No. 1 albums on the Country Albums chart.
Following his enthusiastic performance, Brooks thanked Cher, before thanking God, his manager, wife Trisha Yearwood and his three daughters, declaring, “I will love you here beyond my time on this planet.” He also thanked radio and “all those people who fill those stands.” Like many artists, Brooks’ touring—he was in the midst of a three-year stadium tour—came to a halt with the pandemic.
Past recipients include Prince, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.