Garth Brooks tragically lost his older sister Betsy Smittle on November 2, 2013. A cause of death was never publicly announced, although cancer was later revealed to be the cause, according to Brooks’ daughter August. Smittle was a longtime member of Brooks’ band Stillwater, playing bass guitar and singing background vocals for several years before her death.
Smittle performed on Brooks’ 1991 debut album Ropin’ the Wind and also on his albums The Chase, In Pieces, Fresh Horses and the Double Live concert album, according to 98.1 The Hawk. According to Taste of Country, Smittle also released one solo album of her own, and was a gay rights activist who performed and participated in numerous gay rights events.
Here’s what we know about Smittle’s death:
Brooks’ Daughter Revealed on Social Media That Smittle Died After a Lengthy Battle With Cancer
Smittle was Brooks’ half-sister; the two shared the same mother – Colleen McElroy Carroll, a 1950s-era country singer. After Carroll divorced Smittle’s father Jim, she married Troyal Brooks, Garth Brooks’ father.
Brooks was devastated when his sister passed away, as were his children. His daughter August shared a sweet tribute to her aunt on social media following her death, although the posts have since been deleted.
“My beautiful Aunt lost her battle with Cancer early Saturday morning,” the singer’s daughter said on Twitter and Instagram, according to Taste of Country. “So happy she got to meet my beautiful daughter! We love you and miss you already Aunt Betsy!”
Brooks gushed about his sister to Oklahoma Today back in 1993, telling the publication that Smittle “has a wonderful knack for rhythm, but probably her greatest talent is relating to the audience.” He told the publication that he often called Smittle “Hollywood,” and that she was one of the singer’s four older half-siblings. He also has an older brother named Kelly.
Smittle Released a Solo Album Titled Rough Around the Edges in 1994
When she wasn’t playing bass and doing backup vocals for her younger brother, Smittle was a solo musician; she released an album called Rough Around the Edges in 1994, according to The Hawk. She also toured with singer Gus Hardin and appeared on her 2001 album, I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can, The Hawk reports.
A&E Network is airing a two-part documentary on Brooks tonight, December 2 and Tuesday, December 3 at 9 p.m. EST. The documentary, titled Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On, will give viewers an “intimate” look at Brooks’ life growing up, his prolific rise to fame, his family and the many highs and lows the country music singer dealt with throughout his career. Brooks will likely discuss his relationship with his sister, their musical career together, and the impact her death had on him in recent years.
The Road I’m On will include interviews with Trisha Yearwood, his three adult daughters, and several prominent country music artists, including James Taylor, Billy Joel, and Keith Urban, among others. Tune in Monday, December 2 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST on A&E to catch the premiere of Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On. The conclusion airs Tuesday, December 3 at the same time.