There’s a reason they call George Strait the “King of Country Music.” No other artist has achieved the career longevity and chart success the Texas-born superstar has enjoyed over the last four decades. He’s influenced just about every new act to ink a record deal, and the Country Music Hall of Fame member has set a standard of musical excellence that others aspire to replicate.
Born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas, George grew up in nearby Pearsall working on his family’s ranch. He never lost his love for that lifestyle, and even after becoming one of country music’s most successful artists, George never moved to Nashville. Instead, he remained in the Lone Star State relishing the cowboy life. An accomplished team roper for many years, Strait and his brother launched the George Strait Team Roping Classic back in 1983, and it continues to be a successful event.
Beside his family and his horses, music has always been the other big love in George’s life. He began playing in a rock band in high school, but country music was his true calling. He joined the U.S. Army and, while stationed in Hawaii, began performing in the Army-sponsored band Ramblin’ Country. After his stint in the military, he went back to his home state and enrolled at Southwest Texas State University. While pursuing his degree in agriculture, George continued performing with a local group that evolved into his famed Ace in the Hole Band.
After developing a strong reputation around Texas, George signed a deal with MCA Records Nashville. In the spring of 1981, his debut single, “Unwound,” hit country radio like a bull busting out of the chute, and the airwaves were soon saturated with George’s now familiar baritone. The song peaked at No. 6, a respectable feat for a newcomer in those days, and George’s career was on its way. His lengthy list of hits includes such classics as “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” “Amarillo By Morning,” “The Chair,” “The Fireman,” “Ocean Front Property,” “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” “Love Without End, Amen,” “Check Yes or No,” “Give It Away,” “I Saw God Today” and so many more. In 2009, he made history when he surpassed Conway Twitty’s record of 40 No. 1 singles on the “Billboard” country chart.
Today, George has sold more than 100 million records and amassed numerous awards and accolades, including being named the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade in the 2000s and winning three Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year titles, and two from the ACM. He’s also made forays into acting, most notably starring as Dusty Chandler in the 1992 film “Pure Country.”
In September 2012, fans were saddened when George announced he was retiring from the road after his “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour. That tour concluded in Arlington, Texas, in June 2014, attracting 104,793 fans and becoming the largest ticketed attendance at a single-show concert in the United States. Since then, the performing bug has persisted and George has entertained fans during a residency in Las Vegas.
These days George is still recording, ranching and spending time with his family. He and his lovely wife, Norma, eloped in 1971 and have maintained one of the music industry’s strongest marriages, even through the loss of a daughter in 1986. They enjoy doting on their adorable grandson, named George H. Strait III, after his famous grandfather and his father, who goes by the nickname Bubba.