Alan Jackson - Biography
By J Poet
George Strait is one of the most successful country music recording and touring artists in the genres history. As of 2008 he’d released 38 albums; every one has gone gold, 22 have gone platinum and 12 multi-platinum, making him one of the most successful artists in any genre. He sold more than 58 million units in the US alone. His traditional sound, based on western swing, honky-tonk and sincere country ballads may have seemed old fashioned when he burst on the scene in 1980, but his success helped revitalize country music and make it the commercial force that it has become. He never tried to crossover, but his success and handsome low-key stage presence has made millions of listeners crossover to country.
Strait was born in a ranch in Poteet, TX and grew up listening to rock music. He wasn’t particularly musical in his youth, despite playing guitar in a high school rock band. He joined the Army after dropping out of college in 1971. In the barracks he first heard the music of George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams. They changed his life. He auditioned for an Army country band and got the job of lead singer. After he got out, he auditioned for The Ace in the Hole Band, became their lead singer, and made a fair living playing cover versions of Merle Haggard and George Jones songs, and developing a vocal style that incorporated elements of his heroes. By day he attended Southwest Texas State University, nights he played in honky tonk bars. The band cut a few unsuccessful singles with a small indie label in Dallas and he was about to take a day job when his wife insisted he give music one more tray.
Strait had become friends with bar owner Erv Woolsey, a former MCA exec. Woolsey convinced some of his MCA buddies to come see Strait and The Ace in the Hole Band. They signed him and “Unwound,” Strait's first single, shot up to #4 on the country charts in the spring of 1981. It was the beginning of one of the most successful chart runs in country history with 56 singles going to #1 in the following years. Strait Country (1981 MCA), his first album, quickly went gold, as did every other album he ever cut including Strait From the Heart (1982 MCA), Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind? (1984 MCA), Something Special (1986 MCA), Ocean Front Property (1987 MCA), If You Ain't Lovin', You Ain't Livin ' (1988 MCA), Beyond the Blue Neon (1989 MCA), Livin' It Up (1990 MCA), Pure Country (1992 MCA), which went 6X platinum, and Easy Come Easy Go (1993 MCA). In 1995 the four disc compilation Strait Out of the Box (MCA), a collection of his career highlights to that point, including early pre-MCA recordings went 8X platinum making it the biggest selling boxed set in country music history.
Unlike many stars, Strait shuns the spotlight and lives quietly with his family on his Texas ranch. He’s not often home, however, clocking some 250 one-nighters a year, making him one of the biggest grossing acts in show business. He continued his gold and platinum success with Lead On (19 MCA), Blue Clear Sky (1996 MCA), One Step at a Time (1998 MCA), Always Never the Same (1999 MCA), George Strait (2000 MCA) and The Road Less Traveled (2000 MCA.) Honkytonkville (2003 MCA) wasn’t exactly a change in direction, but it was harder and louder than anything Strait had done in years, and as the title suggests it was pure honky tonk music. It quickly went platinum. Somewhere Down in Texas (2005 MCA), It Just Comes Natural (2006 MCA), and Fresh Cut Christmas (2006 MCA) continued his long platinum streak. His latest release, Troubadour (2008 MCA), is the most thoughtful album of his career, a meditation on the rigors of the road and aging, but delivered without any self-pity. The lead single, “I Saw God Today,” is his 56th straight #1 song. Strait has yet to win a Grammy, but he’s taken home almost every other honor country music has to offer; he’s got 20 CMA Awards including Entertainer of The Year for 1989, 1990 and 2001 and Album of the Year for Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind? (1985) and Blue Clear Sky (1996.) He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006, was CMA’s Artist of the Decade for the 2000s in 2009, and received a National Medal of Arts Award in 2003, the same year he was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.