Garth Brooks became only the ninth artist ever to earn the Billboard Icon Award on Wednesday night (Oct. 14). The country superstar marked the occasion with a career-spanning medley during the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, with a virtual audience just for the occasion.
Brooks’ eight-song medley infused a unique kind of energy as he borrowed live clips from his own shows to feed crowd audio into the theater. Video walls showing some of the same clips further amplified an energy that presenter Cher spoke of at length in recapping his career and presenting him with the Icon Award. “The Thunder Rolls,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” The River,” “Standing Outside the Fire,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “Dive Bar” and “Friends in Low Places” made up the medley.
“The Dance” closed the performance, much like it has so many of his concerts since the late 1980s. The multi-Diamond-certified hitmaker has had Top 10 hits in five decades now and doesn’t seem likely to slow down. Holding the Icon Award, Brooks thanked God, his manager, wife Trisha Yearwood and his three daughters, and country radio.
“To all those people that fill those stands, thank you. Thank you for my life,” Brooks shouted as he walked off the stage.
Brooks is the first and only artist in history to earn eight RIAA Diamond-certified albums (10 million albums sold for each record); he is also the No. 1-selling solo artist in the history of the United States, with a total of 156 million albums sold. The 19-time Billboard Music Awards winner has earned nine No. 1 albums on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, the most of any country artist ever; has 17 No. 1 hits under his belt; and is the first artist to ever appear on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s and ’20s.
Previous Billboard Icon Award recipients include Cher, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Cher presented the honor to Brooks on Wednesday night.
Luke Combs and Kane Brown also performed during the 2020 Billboard Music Awards and were among the nominees at the all-genre awards show, which Kelly Clarkson hosted out of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The show generally takes place in Las Vegas, but due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, both the location and date were changed. Winners — except for those in the fan-voted categories — were determined by the chart period of March 23, 2019, through March 14, 2020.
How He’s Changed! Garth Brooks’ Storied Career in Pictures: