Country music has undergone drastic changes in the three decades that George Strait has been a recording artist. While everything was changing all around him, he became the most consistently successful country artist in history by staying the same.
Strait was raised on a family farm in Texas, and as a teenager, he played in a rock and roll band. When he joined the Army, he was stationed in Hawaii, and it was there that he began playing country music for the first time. When he returned to Texas, he studied agriculture by day, and played gigs with his new band, Ace in the Hole, at night.
He made some independent records with the band, but was a solo act by the time a Texas industry connection helped him secure a contract with MCA Nashville. Released during the height of the pop-flavored Urban Cowboy movement, Strait’s first album would be like every other one he’d release throughout his storied career: contemporary, but clearly and proudly country. From the beginning, it was clear that there was a market for this approach, and Strait became one of the leaders of the New Traditionalist movement that helped bring the genre back to its roots in the eighties. More importantly, he demonstrated that traditional country music could sell just as well as crossover country music, even with only country radio for exposure.
Strait racked up every major industry award in the eighties. When the new country boom wiped most of his contemporaries off of the radio, he continued to prosper. A starring role in the 1992 film Pure Country provided a huge boost to his career, and the soundtrack became his top-selling studio set of all-time. Whereas his eighties albums had usually sold platinum, his nineties releases went multi-platinum, a trend that would continue into the new century. He became the all-time leader in #1 country singles, first matching Conway Twitty’s record of 40, then expanding his own tally to 44.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He added a Grammy to his collection for the first time in 2009, when Troubadour won the trophy for Best Country Album. He was named the ACM’s Artist of the Decade for 2000-2009, winning the award for his third full decade in music. His final tour kicked off in 2013, and the last date set an indoor concert attendance record when more than 104,000 fans showed up for his final concert, shattering the 80,000 record held by the Rolling Stones. In honor of the tour’s overwhelming success, both the CMA and the ACM named him their Entertainer of the Year, his first win in that category since 1990.
Strait has retired from the road, but is still actively recording. He released his 27th studio album in 2013, titled Love is Everything, and is currently working on a follow-up to that collection.
- Amarillo by Morning, 1983
- The Chair, 1985
- Ocean Front Property, 1987
- Love Without End, Amen, 1990
- I Cross My Heart, 1992
- Check Yes or No, 1996
- Carrying Your Love with Me, 1997
- The Best Day, 2000
- I Hate Everything, 2004
- Give it Away, 2006
- I Saw God Today, 2008
- Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, 1984
- Ocean Front Property, 1987
- Beyond the Blue Neon, 1989
- Pure Country (Soundtrack), 1992
- Blue Clear Sky, 1996
- Honkytonkville, 2003
- It Just Comes Natural, 2006
- Troubadour, 2008
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