Wow, how sad.
Oklahoma's News 9 (via Country Weekly) is reporting that Garth Brooks' older sister, Betsy Smittle, passed away over the weekend. The cause is not mentioned.
In an interview back in 1992 with Oklahoma Today (PDF), Garth and his mother, Colleen, talked fondly about Betsy, who was a bass player in Garth's band.
Nobody takes great pains to point out that Betsy Smittle is Garth Brooks's sister, least of all Garth Brooks. When he induces her in concert, it is as someone who has been a good friend all of his life-and a hell of a guitarist. "Betsy Smittle has been in it for twenty years," says their mom, Colleen. "She didn't just pick it up just because she's Garth's sister."
Colleen Brooks has been known to brag on Betsy, her only daughter, when asked about Garth. "She's got a smile that would light up a room if it was completely midnight."
Garth teases Betsy during rehearsal, calling her "Hollywood," for her flamboyant style. "She has a wonderful knack for rhythm, but probably her greatest talent is relating to the audience," says Garth. "I'm not sure anyone has as much fun as Betsy does onstage."
In addition to being a member of Garth's band, Betsy released a solo album in 1994, and was a gay rights advocate.
Funeral arrangements are currently underway.