After over 30 years as a traditional country music icon, George Strait is getting ready to hang up his guitar. The "King of Country" is currently on his final tour before retiring from the industry. The tour, entitled Cowboy Rides Away, will run through 2014. Martina McBride will open for at least the first leg of the tour.
George Strait was born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas. Strait actually began his life in music as a rocker, playing in a rock band during high school, but later switched genres to country. Strait's transition to country came during his time in the Army country band Rambling Country. After leaving the armed forces in 1975, he attended Southwest Texas State University to complete a degree in agriculture. In 1975, while attending SWT, George Strait was accepted as lead singer into the Ace in the Hole Band. Although Ace in the Hole produced a few records for independent label D during the 1970s, the band never achieved much success. Today, Ace in the Hole acts as the back-up band for Strait.
In 1979, Strait's friend Erv Woolsey, the owner of a bar where Ace in the Hole played, invited several MCA record executives to hear George Strait play. That performance convinced MCA to sign Strait in 1980. George Strait's first single, "Unwound," was released in the spring of 1981 and climbed into the top ten. "Unwound" was followed by a whole string of Number One hits, including 1983's "A Fire I Can't Put Out," 1984's "You Look So Good in Love," 1987's "All My Ex's Live in Texas," 1991's "You Know Me Better Than That," 1993's "Easy Come, Easy Go," 2002's "She'll Leave You With a Smile," 2006's "It Just Comes Natural" and many others. In all, there have been over four dozen number one George Strait singles.
In addition to his numerous hit singles, Strait has produced 13 multi-platinum, 19 platinum and 5 gold albums, making him one of few artists to have so many records certified as such. He is bested only by Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Strait has cited influences from a vast array of country icons, such as Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bob Wills and Hank Williams. Yet, George Strait himself is known for his influence, contributing to the styles of artists such as Garth Brooks. Strait is also highly successful on tour, and George Strait tickets have sold out for dozens of concerts over the years. While some of his contemporaries have branched their style out into other genres, such as pop and rock, Strait is well known as a traditionalist, sticking with his classic honky tonk and western swing style.