Biography: George Strait

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There has been no one like him before and there won't be anyone like him again! This week we have the honor of featuring the King of Country himself, George Strait.


The man and the legend: King George.


It was on May 18th, 1952, that George Harvey Strait was brought into this world in Poteet, Texas.  His father John was a mathematics teacher during most of the year, but on weekends and during the summer he managed the family ranch outside of the town of Big Wells in south Texas.  Young George and his brother John Jr. stayed with their father after their parents divorced and grew up helping with the cattle business.  By high school, Strait was a rock 'n roll devotee and spent his time in a garage band.  Regardless, the live country music scene was exploding across the state and Strait found himself spending a lot of his time in honky-tonks and other venues catching some great shows.  In late 1971, he eloped with his high school sweetheart Norma and the couple were married in Mexico on December 4th.  Soon after, Strait enlisted into the US Army and was stationed in Hawaii.  During the four years he was there, he played in the base-sponsored band called "Rambling Country" and had his first child, a daughter named Jenifer.


Here is Strait and the Ace in the Hole band putting in work at the world famous Cheatham Street Warehouse before they got famous.


After being honorably discharged from the army in 1975, Strait and his family moved to San Marcos, Texas, where he would get a degree in Agriculture from Southwest Texas State University (now known simply as Texas State University).  While attending school, he joined a local band called Stoney Ridge as the vocalist and soon after they changed their name to Ace in the Hole.  Strait and his new band quickly amassed a regional following and found themselves opening for legendary groups like the Texas Playboys.  A few singles were recorded around this time, but none did particularly well.  Luckily, a friend got Strait an audition with MCA Records and in 1981 he officially became one of their solo recording artists with the Ace in the Hole band as his backup group.  Few knew it at the time, but a new era in country music was about to begin!


Strait released his debut album through MCA Records in 1981 and has remained with them ever since.


The first Strait single released was called "Unwound" and peaked at #6 on the Billboard US Country charts.  The first Strait album, Strait Country, peaked at #26, went platinum, and featured two more Top 20 singles including the #3 "If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)".  Meanwhile, Straits oldest son George Jr. (aka "Bubba") was born.  1982 and the Strait from the Heart record would include two #1 singles for Strait, "Fool Hearted Memory" and "A Fire I Can't Put Out", and a widely-acclaimed cover of Terry Stafford's "Amarillo By Morning" that would hit #5.  In 1983, Strait began a tradition when he ended up headlining the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo - an event he has now performed at over twenty more times since then.  The album released that year, Right or Wrong, shot up to #1 and every album Strait would release for the rest of the decade would follow suit.  Every single from that album, which includes "You Look So Good in Love", "Right or Wrong", and "Let's Fall to Pieces Together", hit #1.  Strait would be awarded the Top Male Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music in 1984 and Male Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association in 1985.  Sadly, a personal tragedy struck the Strait family that year as young Jenifer was killed in an auto accident.  A charity called the Jenifer Lynn Strait Foundation was formed in her honor.


Large parts of Pure Country were filmed right here in Ellis County, Texas!


The rest of the 1980s saw success after success for Strait.  More of his singles charted at #1 than not.  Among various other awards, Strait was given the coveted Entertainer of the Year award from the CMA in 1989 and again in 1990.  The hits kept coming in the early 1990s with chart toppers like "If I Know Me" and "You Know Me Better Than That".  Strait would have an unbelievable 31 Top 10 singles in a row before he broke his streak with the #24 "Lovesick Blues" released in 1992.  Regardless, he was back on top with songs like "I Cross My Heart" and "Heartland" the following year.  His 1992 album Pure Country, the soundtrack to the movie of the same name that just happened to star Strait, became his first album to break into the Billboard Hot 200 Top 10 at #6.  A box set called Strait Out of the Box would be released in 1995 that would go platinum an unheard of eight times over!  He would also finally hit the #1 spot on the Hot 200 with his Carrying Your Love With Me album in 1997.  In total, the 1990s would see 16 #1 country singles and 6 #1 country albums for the now legendary George Strait and the Ace in the Hole Band - yet there was more to come!


Strait's live performances have broken numerous records.  In 2003, he broke the paid attendance record at the Astrodome with 68,266 fans packed into the venue to see him play live.


Strait started out the new millennium right with another #1 album, George Strait, and followed that up with another chart-topper, The Road Less Traveled, the following year.  2003 would see two albums released: For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome (his first live album) and the #1 Honkytonkville. The next album, Somewhere Down in Texas, was released in 2005 and would become Strait's second #1 album on the Hot 200.  2006's It Just Comes Natural peaked at #3 on the Hot 200 and 2008's Troubadour would be back at #1.  The 2009 album Twang would also go to #1.  Most of the albums would also include various #1 hit singles like "Living and Living Well" and "River of Love".  The tally for the first decade of the 2000s would end up being eight #1 singles and six #1 studio albums released.


Strait has been awarded numerous awards including "Artist of the Decade" in 2009 from the Academy of Country Music.


As of 2012, Strait can boast an unheard of 44 #1 singles and 21 #1 studio albums over his three decade long career (more, actually, if you include other charts than Billboard).  He currently holds the record for #1 singles by any artist in any genre.  Of his 26 studio albums, 23 have gone platinum.  When you factor in his live, Christmas, and compilation albums, that number climbs to 33.  In total, Strait has sold more than 68.5 million albums and has been certified by the RIAA as a multi-platinum artist an astounding 13 times.  Meanwhile, he never strayed from his wife Norma and his Ace in the Hole band has remained remarkably consistent since the beginning - bass guitarist Terry Hale and steel guitarist Mike Daily have continued playing with Strait since their Stoney Ridge days.  At sixty years of age, Strait is moving into a new era of his life (which includes a new member of the family, grandson George H. Strait III), but his touring, performing, and recording is still breaking records.  There is no doubt that the unique life of George Strait has a lot left in store, so make sure to stay tuned!  We will be featuring George Strait on the January 3rd episode of Live In Texas, so be sure to join us starting at 7 PM.