Howdy, and Happy Cyber Monday! While you’re taking some time out of your busy schedule today to shop online, you’ll probably start thinking about the holiday season quickly approaching. As the weather gets cold (in the North) and the days grow shorter, almost nobody brings as much warmth and sunshine to the record booth as this week’s Monday Hero, the King of Country himself, Mr. George Strait.
Hailing from the heart of Texas, George has been one of the biggest names in country for four decades. Born on May 18, 1952 in the small San Antonio suburb called Poteet, George grew up playing guitar with his friends in multiple bands that covered everything from The Beatles to Hank Williams and Merle Haggard.
After marrying his high school sweetheart Norma at the age of 19, he enlisted in the United States Army and then after being honorably discharged at the age of 23, went back to receive a degree in agriculture from Southwest Texas State University.
Throughout his stints in the military and undergrad he was consistently performing in country cover bands; finally, he felt such great chemistry with his college band, Stoney Ridge, that he renamed them the Ace in the Hole Band, and began to act as their lead singer and frontman.
After experiencing growing success in local honky-tonks and bigger national stages alike, the Ace in the Hole Band was given a record contract with MCA Records in Nashville in 1981. The new act would go by the name George Strait, and the Ace in the Hole Band would continue to provide backing support for the entirety of George’s career.
Along with his record contract came almost immediate success; George Strait recorded seventeen #1 singles throughout the 1980s, including “Fool Hearted Memory”, “The Chair”, “Ocean Front Property”, and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”. Despite being tragically impacted by the automobile death of his 13-year-old daughter in 1986, he miraculously charted his next eleven straight singles at #1 on the country charts, spanning from 1986 through 1989 and including songs from four separate albums (#7, Ocean Front Property, If You Ain’t Lovin’ You Ain’t Livin’, Beyond the Blue Neon.) Needless to say, by the end of the decade in which he was discovered he had already achieved superstar status, and was continuing to make history with the release of each and every album.
Throughout the 1990s and until present day, Strait scored dozens more #1 hits, bringing his grand total to 60 separate #1’s by his 61st birthday in 2013, which includes his singles that topped both the Billboard 100 and the Mediabase 100 (measuring country airplay). His 44 Billboard #1 hits total four greater than the next highest country artist ever, Conway Twitty, and Billboard has certified that Strait is the only artist across all genres of music to have a Top 10 hit for each of thirty consecutive years. (George’s span of #1’s lasted from 1981-2012.)
Strait has also been given the RIAA certifications of 13 multi-platinum records, 33 platinum records, and 38 gold albums. When it comes to playing his songs in front of a live audience, he never seems to disappoint. On the last show of his 2014 Cowboy Rides Away Tour, he performed in front of more than 104,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Besides having award-winning artists such as Eric Church, Little Big Town, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill and others give tributes to Strait and sing alongside him, the show was clocked as the largest single-stadium live music show in American history. Four words for you: Long Live the King.
Here are four of King George’s #1 country hits, and don’t forget to catch the other 56 of them at some point as well!
- “Ocean Front Property” (1986) – Being the title track from his 1987 album, this is one of my favorite Strait songs through and through. Other than the slow-grooving percussion and tropical-sounding slide guitar lead-in, the sheer nature of Strait’s vocals in this song make it one of the most relaxing, laid back songs you’ll ever hear. After going through a breakup, the main character is living a carefree life out by the sea, and musically, this song doesn’t have a care in the world.
- “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” (1987) – Of course this song had to be included since it’s one of the more famous, clever songs that Strait has ever recorded (and probably among the most famous country songs in general, too). Let’s be honest, even music god Drake sees this song as iconic. This track basically speaks for itself, so you’ll just have to give it a listen if you don’t know how it goes. Then, keep listening until you know all the words. Only then can you say you love country music!
- “Baby Blue” (1988) – When it comes to finding the perfect harmony between piano, guitar, and vocals, this song comes pretty close. A Billy Joel style track turned country, the lyrics to this song are as beautiful as the music. And yes, there is a phenomenal key change near the end of the song that is as absolutely glorious as it sounds.
- “Check Yes Or No” (1995) – Another classic Strait cut, this song is rooted in a classic country music story, and is as playful as it is catchy. Starting out as little kids with minor crushes, the boy and girl in the story end up living their entire life together in perfect harmony. Who ever said passing notes in class was always a bad thing? When it comes to this song, I check yes ten times out of ten.
Need more from the King of Country? Check out his web pages below!
George’s next four live shows include two December dates and two February dates during his Strait to Vegas residency at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.