Garth Brooks Originally Wanted George Strait To Record “Friends In Low Places” But The King Passed On The Song

Garth Brooks George Strait
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I bet Garth is glad he got to keep this one for himself.

With all of the hits that he has under his belt, none has been bigger for Garth Brooks than “Friends in Low Places.”

The song was the lead single from his 1990 album No Fences, and quickly went to #1, where it stayed for 8 straight weeks. And since then, it’s been Garth’s signature song and remained one of the most popular country songs of all time.

Don’t believe me? Head down to Broadway here in Nashville and just count how many times you hear it in a night.

It’s such a signature song for Garth that he even named his new bar in downtown Music City after the hit.

But did you know that it was originally supposed to be recorded by another country music legend?

As Garth reported in his book The Anthology Part 1, George Strait passed on “Friends In Low Places” before Garth eventually made it his own hit song.

“Friends In Low Places” was written by Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell in 1989. As the story goes, the idea for the song came when Lee was out to eat with some friends and didn’t have enough money with him to cover the check. He was asked how he was going to pay for his meal, and responded:

“Don’t worry, I’ve got friends in low places. I know the cook.”

Lee then took the line back to his songwriting partner Blackwell, and wrote the song on a napkin while they were out at a party.

Then, it came time to record the demo. And that’s where Garth comes in.

Lee and Blackwell had met Brooks before he had a record deal, and had asked him to record demos for them in the past. But by this point, Garth had already signed his first contract and was gearing up to release his first album.

He agreed to record the demo, and according to the liner notes for No Fences, asked them to hold onto the song for him so that he could record it for his sophomore album:

“I sang the session out in Hendersonville, and for the next two weeks the chorus to this song kept running through my head. I knew it would be a year and a half before the release of No Fences because Garth Brooks was just getting ready to be released. I asked Bud Lee and Dewayne if I could hold on to it and, without a blink of an eye, they both said yes.”

Well, that may not be entirely accurate…

“Friends in Low Places” was actually recorded twice by two different artists, David Chamberlain and Mark Chesnutt, before Garth released his version. And Garth told Taste of Country Nights years later that he actually wanted George Strait to record the song:

“The reason they asked me to do the demo was because I wanted to be George Strait for years, so I do a pretty good impersonation of him.

So the original demo of ‘Friends in Low Places’ I did my best George Strait on it before I ever had a record deal.”

Of course we don’t know if Strait himself decided he didn’t want to record the song, or whether somebody on his team passed on it for him. But either way, “Friends in Low Places” found a home with Garth Brooks, who made it a massive hit and his signature song.

And now I can’t help but wonder what a George Strait version of the song would sound like…

In the meantime, check out the version that was recorded by Mark Chesnutt for his 1990 album Too Cold At Home.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock