Chart Rewind: In 1990, Garth Brooks Found an Oasis at No. 1

On Oct. 6, 1990, Garth Brooks‘ iconic “Friends in Low Places” began a four-week rule on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. 

Penned by Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee and produced by Allen Reynolds, “Friends” was released as the lead single from Brooks’ LP No Fences, which became his first of 17 leaders on Top Country Albums. The set reigned for 41 weeks, the fifth-longest command in the survey’s history.

All four No Fences singles topped Hot Country Songs, with “Friends” followed by “Unanswered Prayers,” “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” and “The Thunder Rolls.” “Friends” marked Brooks’ third of 19 No. 1s and is tied with “What She’s Doing Now” in 1992 for his longest stay at the summit.

“Friends” also won for single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1991, when Brooks took home five trophies, including his first of seven entertainer of the year awards.


Blackwell previously wrote such classics as “Mr. Blue,” which The Fleetwoods took to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959, and “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home,” a 1982 Hot Country Songs leader for David Frizzell.

“This guy has touched our lives in so many ways that we don’t even know,” Brooks shared upon Blackwell’s passing in May 2021.

“While I [was] forming my writing habits as a young writer, [manager] Bob Doyle teamed me with Larry Bastian and Dewayne Blackwell. Both are pure rhymists, and they won’t allow a non-pure rhyme in,” Brooks said. “So, the crazy thing to think about is the next time you’re hammered and you’re doing karaoke and you’re singing what could possibly be the most-sung party song on the planet, know that ‘Friends in Low Places’ has pure rhyme 100% through it. Isn’t it amazing? The song that’s probably the most slurred is a pure rhyme. That’s crazy.

“‘Friends in Low Places’ … I [sang] the demo for that,” Brooks recalled. “They were pitching it to [George] Strait and all I know was I did demos sometimes five, nine, a day, and this was the one I couldn’t get out of my head for months. It just kept circling back in. I never [could] believe that me as an artist would take that song on. And now I can’t imagine being the artist that I’ve [gotten] to be without that song.”

Gary Trust