I was lucky enough to see George Strait at Nissan Stadium here in Nashville on Friday night.
Sure, it was nearly 100 degrees and the King’s shirt was soaked with sweat by the end of the show. But it was an absolutely incredible experience to get to see one of the best in the business perform hit after #1 hit for 2 and a half hours.
And I was even more thankful that I was there on Friday when I saw that the Saturday night show got cut short due to severe storms that moved through the area, after Strait had performed less than half of his setlist.
But after seeing this video, I’ve got to admit, it would have been pretty damn cool to be there for this one.
On Friday night, Strait saved his hit “Amarillo by Morning” for one of the last songs of the show, not breaking out the hit song until after 11pm.
But with storms bearing down on Nashville around 10pm on Saturday, and the show likely coming to an abrupt and early end, the King still wanted to give the fans one of the songs that many of them were there to hear. And in the process, he delivered one hell of a special moment to the fans who waited in the pouring rain to hear the iconic song.
With the rain pouring down around them and fans scrambling for the exits, Strait announced that they were forcing everyone to evacuate the stadium – and then rounded out his weather-shortened set with this iconic performance of “Amarillo by Morning,” joined by his opener Chris Stapleton to create this incredible moment for his fans.
And most of them were happy to stand in the rain to witness it.
Thunderstorm coming in, rain starts pouring, and Amarillo by Morning hadn’t been played yet. George sings us out the only way he should, with Amarillo by Morning. Sorry I started after the first of the song he surprised us all. What an incredible moment. LEGEND pic.twitter.com/qqppa2CmgA
George Strait announced that they were telling him everyone had to leave, and then he played Amarillo by Morning as his last song. It was on my bucket list to see George Strait live. After this Jackie and I ran barefoot in thunderstorm. pic.twitter.com/Trzby0NbNW
Of course some fans were upset that they paid, in some cases, thousands of dollars for tickets and hotels just to see half of a concert. But this moment definitely made it a little more worth the price of admission.
Not gonna lie, give me some of that Codigo tequila and I’d stand in the rain all night to listen to George Strait sing.
Why Is George Strait Not A Member Of The Grand Ole Opry?
Sixty #1 hits. Five Entertainer of the Year Awards. 33 platinum albums and 13 that went multi-platinum. Over 120 million records sold worldwide. The King of Country Music.
There’s not much that isn’t on George Strait’s impressive resume. But he’s not a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The Opry is one of the most exclusive clubs in Nashville, a members-only group that many artists work their entire careers to receive an invitation to join. But somehow the King of Country Music isn’t a member?
In fact, not only is George not a member of the Opry, it appears he’s only stepped into the hallowed circle once during his nearly five-decade long career.
The King has in fact appeared on the Opry one time, way back on October 9, 1982 – right after his third album, Right or Wrong, was released, and just a few months after his first #1 single, “Marina Del Ray.”
Strait performed twice that night – and hasn’t been back since.
So why isn’t George Strait a member of the Grand Ole Opry?
Well, honestly it’s hard to say. But the likely explanation can be found on the Opry’s website, which discuss the criteria for deciding who becomes a member:
Talent & Longevity Play A Role:
“But the Opry doesn’t simply pass out invitations to the biggest stars with the most hits. Opry management looks for a musical and a generational balance.
Opry membership requires a passion for country music’s fans, a connection to the music’s history, and it requires commitment – even a willingness to make significant sacrifices to uphold that commitment.
Often, the Opry seeks out those who seek out the Opry, though decisions aren’t based on which artists appear most on the show, either.”
Obviously George Strait would seem to be the perfect candidate for membership into an institution dedicated to country music. I mean, he’s the “King of Country Music.” But there’s one word in there that may explain why Strait and the Opry just never worked out: Commitment.
The Opry requires a significant commitment from its members, including consistent performances at Opry shows here in Nashville. In fact, after E.W. “Bud” Wendell became the manager of the Grand Ole Opry in 1968, he instituted a “credit” system requiring a certain number of appearances per year – although weekend shows reportedly count as more “credits” than weekday performances, because weekends are often when an artist is out touring.
The number of shows members are expected to perform for year isn’t public, but it’s been reduced over time and is rumored to be somewhere around 12 “credits” per year. And although the rules reportedly require a certain number of credits to maintain Opry membership, no member in recent history has been stripped of their Opry membership: I mean, could you imagine the backlash if the Opry told somebody like Alan Jackson or Dolly Parton that they were being kicked out because they don’t make enough appearances?
But the credit system especially presents a problem for George Strait, who has famously chosen to reside in Texas for his entire career. Sure, he probably makes (or made) occasional trips to Nashville for business, but Strait identifies with the Lone Star State over Music City, and has never been known to spend much time in Nashville. And flying to Tennessee for a short performance at the Opry was likely something Strait had (and has) no interest in doing.
So while it’s not exactly known why George Strait never really had a relationship with the Grand Ole Opry, and never became a member, the likely explanation is simply: He wasn’t in town to perform.
The Opry insists there was never any bad blood between the two – it just simply never worked out.
And while it may sound odd that the King of Country music isn’t a member of the “Show That Made Country Music Famous,” it seems like it’s worked out ok for everybody involved.
George Strait Singles That Surprisingly Were NOT Number Ones
When you think of country music, you think of George Strait.
The undisputed King of Country Music, George’s career spanned across five decades featuring over 100 singles, 60 of which have become number ones.
Of course, 60 number ones is good enough for, oh I don’t know… the most in the history of country music.
Eric Church and his wife like to play this little George Strait drinking game, and the rules are really simple: Go back and forth naming number one singles from George and if you’re wrong, you take a drink. Sounds fun right?
Anyways, I got to thinking about all the Strait hits, but what about some of the songs that weren’t number ones?
Some of them may surprise you…
“Amarillo By Morning”
Written by Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser, it was first recorded by Stafford in 1973.
George Strait covered it for his 1982 album Straight From The Heart, however it wasn’t released as a single until 1983. It peaked at #4 on the country charts, however it’s arguably the most iconic song George has ever released.
“Marina del Rey”
Written by Frank Dycus and Dean Dillon, it was released in September 1982 as the second single from his album Strait from the Heart. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard country chart.
“The Cowboy Rides Away”
A Sonny Throckmorton and Casey Kelly tune, it was released in January 1985 as the second single from his album Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.
“Cowboys Like Us”
Written by Bob DiPiero and Anthony Smith, it was released in August 2003 as the second single from his album Honkytonkville. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
Written by Leslie Satcher and Monty Holmes, it was released in June 2008 as the second single and title track from his album Troubadour.
With Vince Gill singing background vocals, “Troubadour” was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards, but it never topped the charts.
And shoutout to George holding it down with a bottle of Codigo tequila… what a legend.