Celebrate George Strait’s 71st Birthday With Some Of The King’s Most Bad*ss Moments

George Strait country music
Stacey Huggins/CC 2.0

Happy 71st to the King of Country, George Strait.

The Poteet, Texas native has put together what is undeniably one of the most impressive careers of any country artist. 60 number ones, 33 platinum or multi-platinum albums, over 120 million records sold, 22 CMAs (including an Entertainer of the Year in three separate decades), 19 ACMs, and he’s had a top 10 hit every year for over 30 years.

But the numbers hardly sum up what George has meant to country music. Beloved by fans young and old still drawn to the neo-traditional sound of real country music, George has sold out monster tours, played to crowds of over 100,000 people, and is a common pick for the greatest country artist of all-time.

To celebrate his birthday, let’s pour a Código and look through some of the most iconic moments from a career that started in the 1970s and continues strong to this day.

CMA Awards 1999 – A Middle Finger to Country Radio

While George’s sound has never waivered, there’s no denying that country radio has been iffy at best for awhile now. Of course, we got fired up over the bro-country era of the 2010s, but George Strait recognized where things were going long before that.

At the 1999 CMA Awards, although country music was near its peak of popularity, the pop-country sound was slowly but surely creeping it’s way in. While many artists may have had their qualms about it, no one expected two of the genre’s best to get up on stage and perform a song directly attacking the trend.

George Strait and Alan Jackson teamed up for a performance of “Murder On Music Row”, a song written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, taking a much needed shot at the industry. It was controversial then and certainly wouldn’t be allowed now, but there was no stopping the King when he had something to say.

Playing to Nearly 105,000 Fans At AT&T Stadium

Back in 2014, George Strait wrapped up his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour with an absolutely packed show at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. It was the final true tour of his career, although he still continues to play shows around the country, just much more sporadically.

The show set the US record for highest attended indoor concert with a staggering 104,793 fans showing up for an absolutely incredible evening which featured guests like Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, and Faith Hill.

This tour earned him the CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year awards.

Setting, Then Breaking, The Houston Rodeo Attendance Record

In case you’re unfamiliar, headlining Houston Rodeo is pretty much the highest honor an artist from Texas can achieve, and naturally, the King has been the main act quite a few times.

In 2013, he set the record with an astounding 80,020 in the seats, but then broke the record just a few years later in 2019 when he brought in 80,108.

I bet if they added a new section he’d break it again…

Putting MCA Records In Their Place When They Told Him To Lose The Hat And Change His Name

Can you even imagine George without his cowboy hat? Or even worse, if his name was Cain Cooper?

That’s exactly what the geniuses as MCA Nashville were trying to convince him to do after he first signed with them in 1981. Of course, George was having none of this…

I wanna tell you a funny story. When I first signed with MCA Records in 1981, you know, all the people were goin’, ‘Take the hat off.’ Now can you imagine if I would have done that? I mean, really.

And then I had a producer early on and he was trying to get me to change my name to Cain Cooper. I would have been one of the Cooper’s. Me and ole Roy would’ve been brothers… we are brothers.

But anyway, my dad was so glad I didn’t do that.”

In a genre where people will change their entire selves for just a chance at a taste of fame, this yet again proves that just being authentic will take you much, much further.

Teaming Up With Jamey Johnson To Call Out Country Radio (Again)

If you’re sensing a trend here, you ain’t wrong.

George tends to be a quiet professional, keeping his personal life secretive and not making many (or any) political statements, but the exception is when it comes to the nature of “country” music being pushed by the industry.

In 2016, he and fellow badass Jamey Johnson teamed up for “Kicked Outta Country”, an unapologetic “F you” to the suits they believed were ruining what made the genre so great to begin with.

“I just got the news today,
The record I sent them: they threw it away
It don’t fit the format, don’t make the list
They say I’m too old, won’t even be missed

Well, It don’t really matter, ’cause I ain’t gonna change
‘Cause getting kicked outta country, won’t hurt a thing.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock