In 1999, Garth Brooks was on top of his game: After launching his country music career with his self-titled 1989 debut album, the singer became the country superstar of the 1990s. Almost all of his singles hit No. 1. All of his albums went platinum multiple times over. He sold out arena concert after arena concerts, playing consecutive nights in the same city. You only had to use his first name for people to know who you meant.

And then, he went pop-rock.

Okay, it's not that simple: Brooks' 1999 album Garth Brooks in ... The Life of Chris Gaines was meant to be a greatest hits collection from fictional Australian rockstar Gaines, an artist who, if he were a real person, could have been described as "rock's Garth Brooks" based on his success. The project was supposed to get listeners familiar with Gaines so that when a movie featuring the character, The Lamb, came out, they would know all about him.

Confused? So was the rest of the world. The Life of Chris Gaines sold 2 million copies, and its lead single, "Lost in You," was a Top 5 Billboard chart hit -- but that wasn't particularly impressive compared to what Brooks was selling and charting at the time. After a Gaines-focused NBC special, a spoof Behind the Music episode, Saturday Night Live episode that found Brooks hosting and Gaines performing, and a smattering of other TV appearances, the Gaines character pretty much disappeared. The Lamb was never made, and in late 2000, Brooks announced that he would be retiring from country music to focus on his family.

Truly, that synopsis of Brooks as Gaines only scratches the surface. The character came with an incredibly elaborate backstory, and there's an equally long history to some of the songs that appear on the Gaines album. Although you'd be hard-pressed to get Brooks to discuss his turn as Gaines at length, two of the project's main songwriters, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick, chatted with us to clear up some misconceptions and share little-known tidbits ahead of The Life of Chris Gaines' 20th anniversary.

Want to know more? Read on for 10 facts you should know about Chris Gaines:

What Ever Happened to That Chris Gaines Movie Anyway?