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George Harvey Strait (born May 18, 1952) is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the “King of Country,” and critics call Strait a living legend.[1] He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional Country music.

Strait rocketed to success after his first single “Unwound” was a hit in 1981. While contributing to the neo-traditional movement of the 1980s, he amassed seven number one albums in the decade with his most popular hits including “Fool Hearted Memory” and “Ocean Front Property“. By the 1990s, Strait had influenced a new breed of performers while continuing his own successes, having charted upwards of 20 number-one hits including “Heartland” and “Blue Clear Sky“. In the 2000s, Strait was named Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music, was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and won his first Grammy award for his hit album Troubadour. Strait continued his previous successes throughout the decade, producing a more contemporary sound with moderate cross-over hits including “She’ll Leave You with a Smile” and “You’ll Be There“.

Truly a legendary, here are some other facts you might not know about the “The Cowboy Rides Away” singer.

10. He Has A Degree In Agriculture

George Strait pretty knows his stuff when it comes to ranch livin’. In 1975, the King of Country enrolled at Southwest Texas State University, which is now the Texas State, and earned a degree in agriculture. No wonder why he has been very convincing on those Tractor Supply Co. commercials.

9. He was named ‘Texan of the Year’

In 2018, the Country Music Hall of Fame Member had been named Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference, a statewide group of business and political leaders. Every year, the honorary title is given to a Texas resident who made a notable impact on the state. George Strait was chosen for his fundraising efforts in the wake of widespread flooding following Hurricane Harvey.

8. He Has Been With Only One Record Label For His Entire Professional Career

George Strait, whose name has become synonymous with “pure country” since his 1981 debut, has been with MCA Records Nashville from the very beginning. He has produced 30 studio albums, three live albums, and 11 compilation albums with the label. And of these albums, 36 have received a certification of at least Gold from the Recording Industry Association of America.

7. He Has Only Been Married Once

He did not only stay loyal to his record label but as well as to the love of his life, his high school sweetheart Norma Strait, ever since they eloped in 1971. He calls her “the first girl I ever loved.” The two went to high school together in Pearsall, Texas, and “knew each other forever,” the country star said.

6. Ace In The Hole Band Is The Only Band That Has Ever Backed The Country Star

The King of Country is not the only one loyal here. The Ace in the Hole Band has been George Strait’s backup band since 1975. They met when Strait was still in the University. The band members also have recorded with George Strait in the studio. Perhaps the most notable of their studio recordings was Strait’s 1987 release, “Ocean Front Property.” The song was the first country song ever to enter the charts at No. 1.

5. Merle Haggard Changed His Life

George Strait took the news especially hard when Merle Haggard passed away. He said Haggard’s music ultimately pushed him toward a career as a country artist.

4. He Thinks Of His Late Daughter Whenever He Sings “You’ll Be There”

In 1986, George Strait lost his daughter Jenifer Strait to a car accident; she was only 13 years old then. Though the singer has not talked much about the incident, he admits that his 2005 song “You’ll Be There” makes him think of his little girl. “I’m a religious person. I honestly believe we will see each other in heaven someday,” Strait said. “I wanted to do the song badly. The writer, Cory Mayo, held that song out because he knew I wanted to do it, and he waited until I had the chance. It was kind of him to do that.”

3. He Is An Avid NBA Watcher

And you will often seem him sitting at the courtside of San Antonio Spurs games.

2. He’s Not A Grand Ole Opry Member

Despite being the King of Country, George Strait is not a member of the Opry. The country legend reportedly turned down an invitation to become a member of the historic organization, though the reason was not revealed.

1. He Holds The Record For Most CMA Awards In The History of Country Music

George Strait does not only hold the record for the most No. 1 singles on the Billboard country charts, but he has also racked up more Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards than anyone in country music history. George Strait has 83 CMA nominations and 23 wins. This includes three wins for Entertainer of the Year.

Strait was named CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1989 and 1990, and ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1990. He has been nominated for more CMA and ACM awards and has more wins in both categories than any other artist. As of 2011, he holds the record for the most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts with 44 number one singles. Counting all other music charts, Strait has amassed a total of 59 number-one hits overall, breaking a record previously set by Conway Twitty.

Strait has sold more than 68.5 million albums in the United States and his certifications from the RIAA include 13 multi-platinum, 33 platinum, and 38 gold albums. His best-selling album is Pure Country (1992), which sold 6 million (6× Multi-platinum). His highest certified album is Strait Out of the Box (1995), which sold 2 million copies (8× Multi-Platinum due to being a box set with four CDs). According to the RIAA, Strait is the 12th best-selling album recording artist in the United States overall.

George Harvey Strait was born May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas, just south of San Antonio, to John Byron Strait and Doris Couser Strait. He grew up in the nearby town of Pearsall. His father was a junior high school mathematics teacher, who owned a two-thousand acre (8 km²) cattle ranch outside of Big Wells, Texas. The family worked at the ranch on the weekends and in the summers. When George was in the fourth grade, his father and mother were divorced, and his mother moved away with his sister, Pency. George and his brother John Jr. were raised by their father.[2]

Strait began his musical interest while attending Pearsall High School, playing in a rock and roll garage band. His musical preference soon turned to country with singers Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bob Wills, Hank Williams and Frank Sinatra influencing his style. Strait didn’t tune to the country music radio often as a youth, usually listening to the news and the farmer’s report. His introduction to country music came mostly by way of live performances, which, according to Strait, could be heard in every town in Texas.[3] He eloped with his high school sweetheart, Norma. The couple initially married in Mexico on December 4, 1971, but repeated their vows in a church in Pearsall, Texas, a few weeks later.[citation needed] In 1971, Strait enlisted in the US Army. While stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii as a part of the 25th Infantry division (light), he began performing with an Army-sponsored band, “Rambling Country”, which played off-base under the name “Santee”.[2] On October 6, 1972, while still in Hawaii, George and Norma welcomed their first child, Jenifer.[4] After Strait was honorably discharged from the army in 1975, he enrolled at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and received a degree in Agriculture. During his college years, he joined the country band Stoney Ridge, answering a flyer the band posted around campus looking for a new vocalist. Strait renamed the group the Ace in the Hole and quickly became the lead, they began to perform at different honky tonks and bars around south and central Texas, traveling as far east as Huntsville and Houston.[5] They gained a regional following and opened for national acts such as The Texas Playboys. Soon, his band was given the opportunity to record several Strait-penned singles including “That Don’t Change The Way I Feel About You”,[6] for the Houston-based D label. However, the songs never achieved wide recognition, and Strait continued to manage his family cattle ranch during the day in order to make some extra cash.[5][7]

While he continued to play with his band without any real connections to the music industry, Strait became friends with Erv Woolsey, who operated one of the bars in which the Ace in the Hole band played, and who had previously worked for the major label MCA Records. Woolsey convinced some of his Music Row connections to come to Texas and to listen to Strait and his band play. Impressed with the performance, MCA quickly signed Strait to a recording contract in February 1981.[8] The Ace in the Hole remained with Strait, performing as the backup and touring band for the now solo act.[7]