In 1999, Garth Brooks was at the height of stardom. The country singer was RIAA's #1 solo artist and showed no signs of slowing down his career. But then, the "Friends in Low Places" singer tried to break the mold with a new persona. Garth Brooks became Chris Gaines, an Australian rocker with a sordid and tragic past. Garth Brooks's rock name and persona were all part of a larger marketing plan for a film starring Brooks as the emo-haired rocker, but it never came to fruition. The album - a "pre-soundtrack" to the film - flopped, fans were angry and confused, and even Brooks had a hard time justifying the bizarre alter ego.
Brooks Intended To Star As Gaines In A Movie Titled 'The Lamb'
The Chris Gaines persona was multi-faceted. Like other artists, Brooks used his alter ego to explore genre avenues with his music. Brooks went above and beyond and created an entire mythos around Gaines, who was set to star in a rock biopic called The Lamb. In the film, rocker Chris Gaines is supposed to perish in the first scene, and the rest of the film follows one of his biggest fans trying to prove his murder.
Gaines's album served as a sort of "pre-soundtrack" to the film, which was never released, likely due to the album's lack of success.
Brooks Said Gaines's Next Project Would Be His 'Sgt. Pepper'
The first (and only) album Brooks released was Garth Brooks...In the Life of Chris Gaines. This album was meant to serve as the "pre-soundtrack" to the film.
Brooks had bigger plans when it came to putting together the actual film's soundtrack and what it would mean for Gaines:
But the day the album is released, Chris Gaines becomes current-time real. He's alive. And as the greatest-hits album comes out, he's working on his 'Sergeant Pepper' album, which is going to be the soundtrack for (the movie) 'The Lamb.' So, see, it all becomes current and real. And for a year, we get to keep up with this artist. We see new music from him, and new videos, and we know all the time that he's in the studio working on the biggest project of his career.
Brooks Was Very Clear: This Was 'Serious,' Not A Joke
As confused as Brooks's lifelong fans were, the country superstar made it known that Chris Gaines wasn't a joke or spoof. When music journalists questioned the endeavor, Brooks insisted that "you have to hear the music to understand."
As anticipation for The Lamb built, Brooks explained to Los Angeles Times his intention with his pop personality:
We want people to go into the theater and know Chris Gaines and care about Chris Gaines. The thing I’d like to get across is how serious we are about this. There’s the Rutles and there’s Spinal Tap, and this is exactly the opposite.
He Was Brooks's Musical Guest On 'SNL' In 1999Video: YouTube
Brooks made his first Saturday Night Live appearance in 1998 as both the host and musical guest. In September 1999, when Brooks was in full Gaines mode, the country star acted as host while his alter rocker ego was the musical guest.
Brooks pokes fun at himself with Tracy Morgan, who stops Brooks in the studio and refers to Gaines as a "lame a** trick" and ends his rant by telling Brooks to "drop Chris Gaines like a hot plate."