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Strait, George (18th May 1952-Present)

He is a country singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist born George Harvey Strait in Poteet, Texas, and raised in Pearsall, Texas.  The family owned a cattle ranch in Big Wells, Texas, and they would spend their time there when his father wasn’t teaching maths in Pearsall.  His parents split up when he was still young and he stayed with his father.

He started taking an interest in music and when he was in high school he became a member of a rock band.  This wasn’t to be his style though and he veered towards country music.  He went on to attend Southwest Texas State University but before long he left to elope to Mexico with Norma, who had been his high school sweetheart.  He joined the US Army in 1971 and during the time he was stationed in Hawaii he became a member of Rambling Country, aka Santee, which was sponsored by the army.

He left the services on an honorable discharge in 1975 and returned to the Southwestern Texas State University to gain a degree in agriculture.  At the same time in 1975 he became the lead singer of the Ace in the Hole Band and was soon performing gigs all over the southern and central areas of the state, including being the opener for The Texas Playboys and several other acts.

After graduation he managed the family’s cattle ranch as well as continuing to play with the band and soon he was getting his first taste of the recording studio, seeing the release of several relatively unsuccessful singles.  After playing in a bar managed by Erv Woolsey who had worked for MCA, and becoming friends with him, Erv pulled some strings to get MCA to come out and listen to George and the band and he was signed up to the record label straight away, with the band still performing his back up and later tours.

His first single release in 1981, “Unwound” found its way into the Top 10 of the country chart and after his third single “If You’re Thinking You Want a Stranger (There’s One Coming Home)” went to No. 3 in 1982 there was no looking back.

Often nicknamed “King George”, he has also been called “the King of Country” and  “a living legend” in some circles and has earned the distinction of beating Conway Twitty’s previous record by having the most No. 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts ever with a total of 56 as of 2008.  He has the third highest number of hit albums behind Elvis Presley and The Beatles, with a total of 38, which have amounted to 68x platinum as certified by the RIAA.  It is estimated that his recordings have sold over 73 million overall.

The albums are too many to list but they include Always Never the Same, Blue Clear Sky, Carrying Your Love With Me, Does Forth Worth Every Cross Your Mind, For the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome, Honkytonkville, It Just Comes Natural, Merry Christmas Wherever You Are, One Step at a Time, Pure Country, The Road Less Traveled, Somewhere Down in Texas, Strait From the Heart, Strait Out of the Box and Troubadour.

Regarded as one of America’s foremost touring acts he has been actively giving performances throughout the country for two decades with many of his concerts setting record attendances.  His many appearances at the Houston Rodeo alone have seen him giving performances to over 1 million fans in total and from 1997 to 2001 he led the George Strait Country Music Festival where he gave live performances along with guest artists such as Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill and Alan Jackson.  He has also performed live with many other acts such as Ronnie Milsap and appeared as a guest musician on stage with Jimmy Buffett as well as on his albums Licence to Chill and Live at Texas Stadium.

Recognised many times for his contribution to music, he has received more CMA Award nominations than anyone else, winning 16, and was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year twice; 1989 and 1990; and also the 1990 ACM Entertainer of the Year.  He has also been a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame since 2006.

Outside of music he has been seen several times on the movie screen with roles in Grand Champion, The Horse Whisperer, Mystery, Alaska, Pure Country and The Soldier.  On the TV screen he was the voice of the character Cornell on a 2003 episode of King of the Hill.  A member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, he and his brother host the annual George Strait Team Roping Classic and his son, George Jr. aka Bubba, often team up together in roping competitions.

After the death of his daughter in 1986 due to a car accident, he and his family established The Jenifer Lynn Strait Foundation to assist children’s charities based in San Antonio, Texas.  He and his family now reside in San Antonio with a ranch in Cotulla, Texas.