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Garth Brooks to resume music career in Las Vegas

By Vernell Hackett

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Garth Brooks, the best-selling solo musician in U.S. history, ended his semi-retirement on Thursday and announced 15 concert dates at Wynn Resorts Ltd's Encore theater in Las Vegas.

Brooks will perform on three consecutive nights beginning December 11, with another six dates in January and six in February at Wynn Resorts' hotel, casino and performance complex, which opened late last year.

Las Vegas has seen a glut of new hotels and casinos open at the same time as the recession reduced the number of visitors by 6 percent in the first seven months of the year.

Brooks said the limited concert series will allow him not to miss much time with his three daughters in Oklahoma, a vow he made when he retired from touring in 2001.

"I am naturally nervous, but it feels good to be out from under the low ceiling of retirement I put on myself," he said.

Wearing his familiar black cowboy hat, Brooks announced his plans alongside resort owner Steve Wynn. The booking follows extended Las Vegas residencies by performers including Celine Dion, Reba McEntire, and Brooks & Dunn.

YOUNG INDUSTRY

A two-time Grammy winner and winner of 11 Country Music Association awards, Brooks' brand of rock-tinged country music topped the charts in the 1990s. He has sold more than 128 million albums, putting him second only to the Beatles in all-time U.S. sales.

"I know this is a young industry, so I'm not sure I'll be welcomed back but, if the fans want me, I still want to pursue my music," Brooks said earlier at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, where he began the day before taking off in a private plane with reporters in tow.

Brooks officially retired in 2001, saying he would devote himself to his three daughters at his home in Owasso, Oklahoma, until his youngest turned 18. She is 13 now.

He and the children's mother divorced in 2001 and he later wed country star Trisha Yearwood.

In 2005, Brooks began performing occasionally, mostly at charity events.

The 1,602-seat Encore Theater has not had a permanent headliner since the death of comedian Danny Gans from a combination of prescription painkillers and a heart condition in May.

Wynn Resorts' shares declined $2.15 to $64.98.

(Writing by Andrew Stern; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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