Garth Brooks had previously said he’d be emotional during his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but tears started flowing before he even entered the building for Sunday’s Induction Ceremony. Some of Garth’s personal heroes – George Strait, Bob Seger and James Taylor– were on hand for the ceremony.
“I moved to this town for one reason and that was to get ‘Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old’ cut by George Strait,” Garth told The Washington Post before the ceremony. “That’s what George is singing tonight. It’s gonna be so cool. I’m a fan. So I get to be a fan tonight.”
Garth, along with Connie Smith and keyboard player Hargus “Pig” Robbins were formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, October21. George Strait, Bob Seger and James Taylor performed in honor of Garth while Lee Ann Womack, the Quebe Sisters and The Whites honored Connie Smith. Merle Haggard gave her induction speech.
Ronnie Dunn was on hand to perform a version of George Jones’ “White Lightning,” the first No. 1 hit Pig Robbins played on in 1959. Ronnie kept it lively, sipping from a Mason jar while he performed. Ronnie Milsap, who like Pig, is blind, joked “Pig and I are driving home tonight,” before joining him on “Behind Closed Doors.”
“If we listened to every hit record he played on, none of us would live long enough to make it to the end,” Charlie McCoy said during his induction speech for Pig. Pig also played on Connie’s early recordings shortly after she moved to Nashville.
Connie recalled how she won a talent contest in Columbus, Ohio. Bill Anderson heard her sing and less than a year later, her song “Once A Day” became the first debut single by a female country artist to reach No. 1, where it stayed for eight weeks. She counts Jean Shepard, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, as one of her inspirations.
“Jean Shepard went in last year and she said, ‘I hope they hang your plaque next to mine,’ and I don’t think I could have a better compliment that that,” Connie said.
During his speech, Garth thanked his friends, family and industry professionals who supported him throughout his career. He also told of how James Taylor, Bob Seger and George Strait affected him as they became a part of his life. He recalled hearing George on the radio for the first time while visiting home after his freshman year in college.
“From that point forward I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Garth said. “I wanted to be George Strait so bad, man. And I have to say now, 20 years in the business under my own name, thank you very much, I still want to be George Strait so damn bad.”