He taught himself to play the banjo, receiving no formal instruction. He gave concerts (often at Chickering Hall) and played in society programs regularly beginning in the late 1880s, performing in many varieties ranging from the latest vaudeville tunes to attempts at serious classical music He made three separate European tours, performing for various royalty including the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), who was also a banjo player of some skill.
By the late 1890s he had mostly ceased to perform in public, finding it more lucrative to give private lessons to wealthy students and to make recordings for the developing phonograph industry.
Mr. Brooks recorded regularly for Edison from the late 1890s until his death in New York City in 1906 of throat cancer. “The Belle of Columbia” “Honor Bright” “University March” “White Star Lincolnshire”.