What do a broken guitar, a pair of Wrangler jeans and a black cowboy hat have in common? They’re all items that country music artist Garth Brooks donated to the National Museum of American History yesterday.
In a special ceremony held in the “American Treasures” section of the National Air and Space Museum, the top-selling American solo artist was on hand to present several key items from his career.
“To say that I’m flattered would not be enough,” Brooks told a small crowd of media types and museum employees. “I always thought that when this happened I’d feel like Elvis, but I don’t.”
Brooks donated several items, including an outfit he once wore in concert, a guitar that he smashed during a performance in 1991, his first gold record and a Stetson hat that reads “made especially for Garth Brooks” on the inside. He also donated the handwritten lyrics to the song “The Beaches of Cheyenne,” which show edits he made to the lyrics.
The singer said he chose items that he felt were the largest of his career. “In a celebrity world it’s all very me, me, me. Very few times do you get to be a part of something bigger,” he added.
On his way into the ceremony, Brooks took a few moments to examine the items on display in “American Treasures,” which range from the Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter to Ray Charles’ sunglasses. The section in the Air and Space Museum is a temporary home for the items until renovations on the Museum of American History are complete.
When asked his favorite piece, he exclaimed, “[Are] you kidding me? Those ruby red slippers!”
Brent Glass, director of the Museum of American History, was on hand to receive the collection and expressed his excitement over the pieces. “Garth Brooks is a pivotal figure in contemporary music and his achievements, both commercial and artistic, are remarkable,” he said.
Over the span of his career, Brooks has captured the title of No. 1 selling solo artist in U.S. history, with more than 123 million records sold. He also is the only Recording Industry Association of America-certified artist to have six albums that sold more than 10 million copies and has been awarded two Grammys, 17 American Music Awards (one of which he donated to the museum), 11 Country Music Association Awards, 12 People’s Choice Awards and 36 Billboard Music Awards.
The memorabilia will be on display as a part of the “American Treasures” exhibit in January 2008 before being moved into the National Museum of American History when it reopens in the summer of 2008.