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It’s been 20 years since Garth Brooks joined the ranks of Diana Ross, Elton John and also James Taylor, performing live in main Park in new York City. ~ above Aug. 7, 1997, an approximated 980,000 civilization crowded the above park’s north Meadow to clock the nation superstar carry out a set list that hits, including “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and “Friends in low Places.”

Not just was the landmark concert massive in size, it was a showcase the Brooks’ vigilant perfectionism and also the reliable, demo-crossing very nice one he’s preserved for years.

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In the days leading as much as the event, Brooks provided ET some insight into just how one holy spirit prepares because that a performance on this scale, i m sorry was no only totally free to concertgoers however being broadcast live top top HBO. According to him, he’s the kind of person who didn’t acquire nervous prior to his wedding, however sitting in church the work of to be a different story. “All the method up until the preacher grounding his head in and also says, ‘Alright. Let"s go.’ and also then it was like...” he claimed with a challenge full that fear and panic.

“If you check out me 2 seconds before the present I"ll be ‘meh.’ I"ll just be hanging out. Having fun most likely playing record or beating up on my little girls or something,” Brooks continued. “But, man, the minute ns hit the stage, ns don"t desire to look at up, since if there"s a ton of human being there... Sheesh! that knows what"s gonna happen?”

What whatever boiled under to: would certainly the civilization come? In a city recognized to have a penchant because that rock and also roll, classical and jazz, some continued to be unconvinced of Brooks’ capability to traction in what was being hyped by his promoter as 1 million people in attendance. In spite of his history of breaking sales records and also reputation for garnering fans outside of his nation music base, the venue appeared risky to several new York media outlets. Paul Simon’s main Park concert in 1991 had collection a high bar, v 600,000 in attendance, because that those who tackled the NYC landmark -- no that any fresh standards were needed. Central Park was already famous for amassing crowds in the hundreds of thousands because that concerts and appearances indigenous Barbra Streisand, Pavarotti and also even the Pope.

“Central Park was really a marriage between a few things,” Brooks told ET when the concert was first announced in may of 1997. In the middle of the 3rd leg of a civilization tour, he had actually just saw fans old and new attending his concerts in droves anywhere the globe. “The tourism has shown me that human being still remember who we are and also they still present up, for this reason why not bring the tour into brand-new York and do the show here?”

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There are no half-measures once it comes to Brooks, and also this concert would be a reflection of that. Later referred by some as “Garthstock,” the event would it is in meticulously to plan by the singer’s long-time crew to ensure it copy the high standards Brooks sets for himself together a performer.

“You gotta acquire yourself prepared choose you"re going out in prior of 15,000 civilization in one auditorium somewhere and just realize the it"s the show. And also my job almost everywhere I go is to do no matter what size the room as tiny as ns can,” Brooks said. “I gotta discover a means to get the human in the an extremely back right into the show, and also that"s the an obstacle that ns like.”

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With a meet of this size and the predicted number of attendees, “challenge” was placing it mildly. The production contained the setup and coordination the 24 cameras and also a one-of-a-kind camera crane that projected the present onto 5 jumbo display screens surrounding the massive, 360-foot long stage.

Of details interest to Brooks to be a camera they had actually never used prior to called the “rail cam.” Most frequently seen ~ above the sidelines of college basketball games, the remote-operated camera slides along a track, enabling for maximum coverage that the GRAMMY winner together he covered the length of the stage. Brooks stated the directors of the show argued that he must play around with the rail camer during rehearsal to check its potential. The perfectionist who loves obstacles remarked with a smile, “I don’t think they know what they simply told me.”

By anyone’s measure, the concert to be base-level spectacular. Brooks sang several of his most renowned hits, such as “The Thunder Rolls” and “Shameless.” throughout “Ain’t Goin’ Down,” Brooks climbed on height of a piano being played by Billy Joel and, later, other special guest Don McLean quit by to perform his signature song “American Pie” as an encore.

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“It was so large and it taken place so fast, girlfriend don’t psychic a lot of it,” Brooks called ET last year, together he to be preparing because that his huge return to new York City, v a tour stop at Yankee Stadium. “Everything was great there, but as far as the show itself it to be such a blur.”

In might of 1998,the brand-new York City Fire room announced that 980,000 had attended thatnight, making that the greatest concert ever. (However, the main number variesfrom source to source.) by comparison, Ross drew in 800,000 and John attracted300,000 people. However the balloon of big main Park concerts had actually seemingly burstby 2008, as soon as The brand-new York Times reported that fewer 보다 50,000 peopleattended Bon Jovi’s concert on the good Lawn, if the 2015 an international Citizen Festivalheadlined by Beyonce, Pearl Jam and Coldplay only had actually 60,000 in attendance.

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In addition to setting an attendance document at main Park, Garth Live From main Park was likewise the highest-rated original program top top HBO in 1997 and also the most-watched special on cable TV, drawing 14.6 million viewers. It later on earned six Primetime Emmys Awards, including Outstanding power in a variety or music Program and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.

“I never ever seen somany civilization in mine life,” Brooks said, spring back. “Try come remember, in myhometown, once I thrived up, most likely 17,000 people. So, come look outand view 40 times her hometown the end there, it’s favor -- it was crazy. It to be sobeautiful.”