George Strait Was The First Artist Who Was Offered To Record “Tennessee Whiskey” – But He Turned It Down

George Strait
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Could this have been #61?

Of course George Strait already has 60 #1 hits under his belt, so he’s probably not thinking too much about what could have been. But it turns out that The King had the first opportunity to record a song that would later become a massive hit for several different artists – and turned it down.

“Tennessee Whiskey” was originally recorded by David Allan Coe back in 1981 for his album of the same name. It was a modest success for Coe, peaking at only #71 on the charts. But just two years later, George Jones recorded his version of the song and took it to #2 on the charts.

The song had a massive renaissance, though, when a then-relatively unknown Chris Stapleton recorded his bluesy version of the song for his debut album Traveller. After performing “Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards, the rest, as they say, is history: The song shot to the top of the chart, taking Stapleton’s debut album along with it, and he’s been a household name and one of the biggest stars in country music ever since.

But it turns out George Strait was actually offered the song before anybody else recorded it.

“Tennessee Whiskey” was written by frequent George Strait songwriter Dean Dillon, along with Linda Hargrove. And a few years ago, Strait admitted that Dillon pitched him the song first, but that he had turned it down – and that it’s probably the biggest song he’s ever passed on:

“There’s a couple, but the biggest one is probably ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ that Dean Dillon wrote…Dean pitched that to me in the ’80s…

And, I just didn’t…I missed it.”

I’m sure George Strait probably isn’t losing too much sleep over missing out on a potential #1. He’s got plenty to hang his hat on.

But after finding out that the world missed out on a George Strait version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” I think I speak for everybody when I say we need to hear it.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock