Betsy Smittle, Garth Brooks‘ half-sister and a longtime member of his band, died Saturday (Nov. 2) in Oklahoma at age 60. A cause of death has not been announced, and funeral services are pending in Tulsa, Okla.
Smittle was a bass guitar player and vocalist who toured with Brooks’ band, Stillwater, for several years. She performed on his 1991 debut album Ropin’ the Wind and later albums including The Chase, In Pieces, Fresh Horses and the Double Live concert album. She also appeared in TV specials such as This Is Garth Brooks and This Is Garth Brooks, Too.
Smittle’s early musical inspiration came from her mother, the late Colleen Carroll, a country singer in the ’40s and ’50s who was married to musician Jim Smittle. Following Carroll’s divorce from Smittle, she married Troyal Raymond Brooks.
In addition to her work with Brooks, Smittle released a solo album, Rough Around the Edges in 1994. She also toured with Oklahoma singer Gus Hardin and appeared on her 2001 album, I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can
Smittle, a gay rights advocate, performed at gay pride events throughout Oklahoma.