Hello avid readers, and those checking this out for the first time. I want to start by saying thank you to everyone that has been participating. I would like to take this time to shout out to BerdieMaigatter. Berdie is officially the first person to make an artist suggestion, and I am covering that artist this weekend, George Strait. We have a new prize to give away this weekend as well. Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is performing at the Resch Center in Green Bay on April 16th, and if you answer my question at the end of this article correctly, you can win a pair of tickets to go see her. Good luck to all of you, and let’s get on with the article shall we?
George Strait is a country music legend. With a career spanning four decades, including 28 albums, and 60 number one songs, there is no denying that he has earned to moniker, the King of Country. Strait has always been one of my all-time favorites, along with Reba and Randy Travis. He is also one of the most consistent artists of any genre. Very few, if any, artists can claim the stats the King of Country can boast. Just as a heads up, I will be using the word only quite a bit, mainly in regards to a single reaching a certain rank. Now I know that just getting a song on these charts is a feat in itself, but when you are talking about an artist like George Strait, reaching number 17 for example, is an example of a song not doing well. I know many artists would love to see their song anywhere on the charts, and I’m not trying to diminish the achievement that getting on the chart is, I’m just putting it in perspective of the rest of his songs. Now without further ado, let’s dive into the man, the myth, the legend, George Strait.
George Harvey Strait was born in Poteet, Texas, on May 18th, 1952. His father, John Byron Strait, was a junior high school math teacher and owned a 2,000 acre cattle ranch in Pearsall, where George grew up. When Strait was in third grade, his parents got a divorce. His mother moved away and took his sister Pency with her. His brother John stayed with George and their father.
Strait began showing an interest in music when he reached high school. He initially liked The Beatles, and played in a rock and roll garage band, but his sights were soon set on country music. He used to listen to singers like Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Hank Williams. His love for country music came more from the live shows that could be seen all over in Texas than from the radio.
While still in high school, Strait eloped with his girlfriend Norma, and the two got married in Texas. Strait enlisted in the U.S. Army not long after. Strait was stationed in Hawaii as part of the 25th Infantry Division. It was there that he joined an Army sponsored band called Rambling Country. After Strait did his time in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1975, he enrolled at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. During his time there, he joined a local country band called Stoney Ridge. He found out about the band because they had posted flyers around town stating they were looking for a new vocalist. After Strait joined the group, they renamed themselves Ace in the Hole. Strait quickly took the lead. They began performing at honkey tonks and bars in south and central Texas. Their hard work and many miles traveled payed off when they were given the opportunity to record several songs Strait had written. The songs didn’t achieve the recognition they were hoping.
One night when Ace in the Hole was playing at a bar, Strait met and became friends with Erv Woolsey. Woolsey had previously worked for MCA Records, and convinced some of his connections to come and listen to the band play. The connections were impressed by the band, but weren’t convince they could sell the “Western Swing” sound the group was known for. They left without making any deals. Strait was turned down by every major label, even after making several trips to Nashville. Heartbroken, Strait wanted to quit the music business, but his wife talked him into giving it one more year. MCA signed Strait in February 1981. The deal was only for a single song, and the rest of his career hinged on the success of that song. Strait brought Ace in the Hole with him as his backing band.
In the spring of 1981, Strait released his first single, “Unwound”. The single reached number three, securing Strait a longer contract with MCA. The single was then featured on Strait’s debut album, “Strait Country”. The album saw moderate success, reaching number 26. The second single off of the album, “Down and Out”, reached number 16, and the third single, “If You’re Thinking You Want a Stranger (There’s One Coming Home)” reached number three. That single also was the first of a string of top ten hits that lasted well into the 90’s. The album was praised critically for starting the traditionalist movement and breaking free of the pop influenced sound that had taken over country music at the time.
In 1982, Strait released his second album, “Strait from the Heart”. The album peaked at number 18, but was home to his first number one single, “Fool Hearted Memory”, as well as his second number one single, “A Fire I Can’t Put Out”. The other two singles saw success as well, with “Marina del Rey” reaching number six and “Amarillo by Morning” reaching number four. The latter was even placed at number 35 on the Western Writers of America’s Top 100 Western Songs of All Time list.
In 1983 Strait released his third studio album, “Right or Wrong”. The album was his first to reach the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, and was home to three number one singles in “You Look So Good in Love”, “Right or Wrong”, and “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together”. 1983 also saw Strait start a tradition. He made his first appearance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has since made over twenty appearances at the rodeo, and has played to over one million fans there.
1984 saw Strait release his second consecutive number one album titled “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”. The titular single topped the charts, and the other two both reached number five (“The Cowboy Rides Away”, and “The Fireman”.)
1985 was a big year for George Strait. Not only did he release his fifth studio album, and third consecutive number one album, “Something Special”, and have two more singles break into the top five with “The Chair” reaching number one, and “You’re Something Special” reaching number four, he also won his first awards. At the Academy of Country Music Awards he won Top Male Vocalist, and at the Country Music Association Awards he won Male Vocalist of the Year, and Album of the Year for 1984’s “Does Fort Wort Ever Cross Your Mind”. These awards started a seven year stretch where Strait won at least one award.
1986 saw Strait release his sixth studio album “#7”. Now when I first looked through his discograghy I was confused on why his sixth studio album was titled “#7”. The answer is very simple. He released a Greatest Hits compilation in 1985. If you are an avid reader you know how I feel about those, especially early in a career, so I bypassed talking about it. “#7 became Strait’s fourth consecutive number one album with the help of his eighth and ninth number one singles, “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her”, and “It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You”.
1986 also saw Strat win pretty much every award he could. At the ACM Awards he won Top Male Vocalist, and Album of the Year for “Does Fort Worth Still Cross Your Mind”. At The CMA Awards he won his second consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year. Music City News Country awarded him the Male Artist of the Year. Billboard named him Top Country Artist of the Year as well.
Sadly for Strait, he and his family were dealt a tremendous blow when his daughter Jenifer died in a one-car, non-alcohol related accident. She was only thirteen at the time of the accident, and was riding with Gregory Allen, 18, in a Ford Mustang. Allen survived the crash, and was charged with a Class A misdemeanor or vehicular homicide. A statement released by the Texas Department of Public Safety stated,
“The responding trooper determined the cause of accident to be excessive speed and that the car did not negotiate the turn properly. Jenifer was riding in the front passenger’s seat and none of the four occupants were wearing seat belts at the time. When the vehicle flipped over onto its passenger’s side, Jenifer was partially ejected, causing her to be dead upon impact.”
Following the incident, Strait limited his contact with the media, because he didn’t want to talk about Jennifer’s death.
Something that has always amazed me is how superstars react after a personal tragedy. For example, Bret Favre’s first game after his father’s death. I don’t know what it is, but it would seem that personal tragedy gives people super powers, because after Jennifer’s death, Strait released nine straight number one singles. The streak started with , “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her”, and “It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You”, so it was actually eleven straight, but nine after Jennifer’s death. The streak lasted through four albums including “#7”, “Ocean Front Property”, “If You Ain’tLovin’ You Ain’tLivin’”, and “Beyond the Blue Neon”. All five albums also reached number one, giving him seven consecutive number one albums. The nine singles that finished off the incredible run were, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”, “Am I Blue”, “Ocean Front Property”, “If You Ain’tLovin’ You AintLivin’”, “Baby Blue”, “Famous Last Words of a Fool”, “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”, “What’s Going On in Your World”, and ending with “Ace in the Hole”. The final single on “Beyond the Blue Moon”, “Overnight Success”, only reach number eight, ending the streak. That run of nine number one singles after his daughter’s death, has to be, in my opinion, the most amazing part of George Strait’s illustrious career.
Straight started the 90’s the same way he ended the 80’s. By releasing another number one album, “Livin’ It Up”. The album was his eighth consecutive number one album. Two of the three singles reached number one. They were “Love Without End, Amen”, and “I’ve Come to Expect It from You”. The third single, “Drinking Champagne”, reached number three.
1991 would prove to be a “down year” for Strait. His album, “Chill of an Early Fall”, only reached number four, putting an end to his streak of number one albums. The album was home to two number one singles, “If I Know Me”, and You Know Me Better Than That”, but it also was home to the single that would end his nearly decade long streak of top ten singles. His cover of the Hank Williams hit, “Lovesick Blues” peaked at number twenty four. To me that shows that people would rather hear George Strait sing George Strait than hear him sing covers. I would take that as a huge compliment.
In 1992, Strait released his twelfth studio album, “Holding My Own”. The album did well, but din’t see quite the success Strait had seen for the previous decade. The album peaked at number five. Both of the singles broke the top five, with “So Much Like My Dad” reaching number three, and “Gone as a Girl Can Get” reaching number five. He also released the soundtrack for the movie, Pure Country, which he starred in. Coincidentally, the album would be his most successful, reaching number one on the Top Country Albums chart, and number six on the Billboard 200 chart.
In 1993, Strait released his album, “Easy Come, Easy Go”. The album reached number two, while the titular single reached number one. The other three singles faired well too, with “I’d Like to Have That One Back” reaching number three, “The Man in Love with You” reaching number five, and his cover of George Jones’ “Lovebug” reaching number eight.
His next four albums, including “Lead On” in 1994, “Blue Clear Sky” in 1996, “Carrying Your Love with Me” in 1997, and “One Step at a Time” in 1998, all charted at No. 1.“Carrying Your Love with Me”also topped the Billboard 200 for the first time in his career. The albums also gave Strait eight more number one singles. They are, “The Big One”, “You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody”, “Blue Clear Sky”, “Carried Away”, “One Night at a Time”, “Carrying Your Love With Me”, “Round About Way”, and “I Just Want to Dance With You”. Those are the songs I grew up listening to, and how I learned about George Strait. Those are my personal favorite songs in all of 90’s country.
Strait topped off the 90’s with “Always Never the Same”. The album reached number two, and was home to “Write This Down”, “Meanwhile”, and “What Do You Say to That”. The first reached number one, while the other two both reached number four.
Strait started off the new millennium with a self-titled album, which topped off the charts. The singles, “Go On”, reached number two, and “If You Can Do Anything Else” reached number five, but “Don’t Make Me Come over There and Love You” only reached number 17.
Strait’s twenty-first studio album, “The Road Less Traveled” saw his success continue. The album reached number one, and was home to two number one singles in “She’ll Leave You With a Smile”, and “Living and Living Well”, as well as “Run” which topped off at number two.
2003 saw Strait release two albums. “For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome” was a live album at the last Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He also released “Honkytonkville”, another number one album for the King of Country. The album was home to “Cowboys Like Us” which peaked at number two, a cover of Bruce Robinson’s “Desperately” which peaked at number six, and “Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa” which failed to break the top ten at number eleven.
In 2004 “Somewhere Down in Texas” hit the shelves. The album topped both the Top Country Albums chart and the Billboard 200, for only the second time in his career. The album was a milestone for another reason too. “She Let Herself Go” became Strait’s 40th number one single. “You’ll Be There” also broke the top five, reaching number four, while his rendition of Merle Haggard’s “The Seashores of Old Mexico” topped out at number eleven.
Strait celebrated his 30th year in the music industry with “It Just Comes Natural”. The album topped the charts (surprise surprise) and was home to two number one hits in “Give It Away”, and the title track, as well as “Wrapped” which reached number two, and “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” which peaked at number three. It received generally positive reviews from critics. People, in their four-star review, remarked that “If ever there was a natural in country music, it’s Strait,” while USA Today raved that “he continues to make such consistent quality look easy”.
Strait’s twenty-fifth studio album was another commercial success. Topping both the Country Albums and Billboard 200 charts for the third time in his career, and was home to the highest debuting single of his career, “I Saw God Today”. It was also home to two more number one singles, “I Saw God Today”, and “River of Love”. The title track didn’t fair quite as well, only reaching number seven.
2009 was another big year for King George. For starters, the Academy of Country Music named him the Artist of the Decade, an honor won by Garth Brooks the previous decade. Strait also go to christen the Dallas Cowboy’s new stadium in Arlington, Texas. Billboard also named him the top country artist of the past twenty five years. On top of all that, he released his twenty-sixth studio album. Can you guess how it did on the charts? If you guessed that it topped the Top Country Albums, and Billboard 200 charts, you would be correct. Congrats you win a cookie. I mean…. I don’t actually have one….sooooo….you can go bake some I guess?….OOOOHHHH Share with me please!!!! I’m partial to chocolate chip, but as long as there’s no fruit I’m good….Wow I guess I shouldn’t write on an empty stomach….anyway…..The album didn’t have any number one singles, but it did have two top five singles with “Living for the Night” reaching number two, and “I Gotta Get to You” reaching number three. “The Breath You Take” just missed the top five reaching number six, and the titular track didn’t do so well, only reaching number 14.
September 2011 saw Strait release “Here For a Good Time”. The album reached (do I even have to say it anymore) number one, and was home to two number one singles. They were the titular track, and “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”. Those two brought his number one singles count up to 59. The third single, “Drinkin’ Man” kinda fell by the wayside, only reaching number 37.
In October 2012, MCA Nashville decided to try to get Strait his 60th number one single while the artist was still 60. They pushed for that song to be “Give it All We Got Tonight” from the album “Love Is Everything”. They succeeded, when the song topped the Mediabase chart in May of 2013. The parent album reached number one, but the other single, “I Got a Car” only reached number 23.
2012 was also the year that Strait decided after 30 years of recording and touring, he was calling it quits. Well the touring anyway. He announced a massive tour that would be his last. He called it The Cowboy Rides Away Tour. The tour started on January 18, 2013 in Lubbock, Texas and is divided into two legs: 21 concerts in 2013 and 26 concerts in 2014, for a total of 47 concerts. The tour ended in Arlington, Texas on June 7, 2014.A live album recorded from the final concert in Arlington titled The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium.
Strait is continuing to make music even though he isn’t touring anymore. On April 20th 2015, he released his 29th studio album, “Cold Beer Conversation”. Any guess as to where it peaked on the charts? Yup. Number one. The singes didn’t do very well though, with “Let it Go” only reaching number 29, and the titular song only reaching number 36.
George Strait. I honestly don’t know what to say to wrap this one up. The man is amazing. I seriously can’t think of a good way to end the article because I am in awe of all the things he accomplished in his career. All I have to say is I hope he continues to record music, because the world can always use more King George.
I would again like to thank everyone who reads these on a regular basis, as well as another shoutout to Berdie. I’m so happy you suggested George Strait, because I didn’t know a lot of this info, and I loved learning about him. Anyways, Time to give away some tickets! Again to win two tickets to see Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland at Resch Center in Green Bay on April 16th, answer the following question. What did I say was, in my opinion, the most amazing part of George Strait’s career?To answer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will have until Sunday night at 11:59 pm to answer. On Monday, I will randomly select a winner out of everyone that gets the answer correct. Make sure the subject line says “Featured artist question of the week” so I can easily spot it. In the email also include your name and a phone number. Good luck!
(courtesy of Ryan B)