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Chart Rewind: In 1991, Garth Brooks Lassoed History With ‘Ropin’ the Wind’

Garth Brooks made history on the Sept. 28, 1991-dated Billboard 200 chart with his third album, Ropin’ the Wind: The set became the first country title ever to debut at No. 1.

The release also dethroned Metallica’s then-five-week-old eponymous album. No small achievement, as the latter recording has gone on to become the best-selling album (17.3 million copies) in the United States since MRC Data began tracking sales in May 1991.

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After moving 300,000 in its first week, Ropin’ the Wind has sold 9.6 million to date. Remarkably, Brooks, then 29, achieved these feats without the benefit of pop crossover airplay. Rather, it was his electric live concerts and a string of modern country classics from his first two albums, Garth Brooks and No Fences, that helped rocket his third album to a No. 1 launch and propel country radio to new ratings highs in the early ’90s.

Ropin’ the Wind, which yielded five Hot Country Songs top 10 singles, including the No. 1s “Shameless” (written by Billy Joel), “What She’s Doing Now” and “The River,” became the first of nine No. 1 albums that Brooks has landed on the Billboard 200. With 73.2 million albums sold in the U.S. since 1991, Brooks is the best-selling artist of the MRC Data era, ahead of runners-up The Beatles, with 72.1 million.

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Brooks’ current single, “That’s What Cowboys Do,” from his 2020 album Fun, his 23rd top 10 on Top Country Albums, became his 62nd top 40 hit on Hot Country Songs in August.