In May of 1998,
the New York City Fire Department announced that 980,000 had attended that
night, making it the biggest concert ever. (However, the official number varies
from source to source.) By comparison, Ross drew in 800,000 and John attracted
300,000 people. But the bubble of big Central Park concerts had seemingly burst
by 2008, when The New York Times reported that fewer than 50,000 people
attended Bon Jovi’s concert on the Great Lawn, while the 2015 Global Citizen Festival
headlined by Beyonce, Pearl Jam and Coldplay only had 60,000 in attendance.
In addition to setting an attendance record at Central Park, Garth Live From Central Park was also the highest-rated original program on HBO in 1997 as well as the most-watched special on cable TV, drawing 14.6 million viewers. It later earned six Primetime Emmys Awards, including Outstanding Performance in a Variety or music Program and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
“I never seen so
many people in my life,” Brooks said, looking back. “Try to remember, in my
hometown, when I grew up, [there were] probably 17,000 people. So, to look out
and see 40 times your hometown out there, it’s like -- it was crazy. It was so