On April 22, George Strait took to the stage at the newly opened T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as part of his Strait to Vegas Residency. There, he paid tribute to his role model and friend, the late Merle Haggard.
“You know, a couple of weeks ago we got the tragic news that we lost a huge icon in country music — Mr. Merle Haggard,” said a misty-eyed Georg. “It was such a sad day for all of us, because he was such a huge influence on me, and all of the guys in the band, and I know a lot of you, too. It’s so sad that we’ll never be able to hear Merle perform live again, but his music will live on forever.”
Then, with the accompaniment of the Ace in the Hole Band, the King of Country channeled three of the late great’s chart-toppers. Strumming away on his acoustic guitar while photos of Merle flashed on the projector screen, George played two toe-tappers — “Mama Tried” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me” — before segueing into the slow and sentimental ballad, “My Life’s Been Grand.”
And by the time he finished, his fans were in tears.
That unforgettable Sin City show was the first of George’s live performances in nearly two years since he announced his retirement back in June 2014. Kacey Musgraves opened for the “Troubadour” singer. Together, the two Texans are scheduled to play a string of seven more dates at that venue, which opened on April 6.