With over 100 million records sold worldwide, 60 No. 1 hits and three CMA Entertainer of the Year awards to his name, George Strait has certainly earned his “King of Country” nickname. Even at 69 years old, his influence on country music remains strong, and he himself remains relevant to the genre.
The singer was born in Poteet, Texas, just outside of San Antonio, on May 18, 1952. Growing up, he played in a rock ‘n’ roll garage band, but his musical preferences soon switched to country — specifically, artists like George Jones and Merle Haggard. Little did Strait know that one day, his name would be synonymous with those of his heroes.
After eloping with his high school sweetheart Norma, enlisting in the Army and graduating from South Texas State University, Strait signed a record deal with MCA Records. His first single, “Unwound,” was released in 1981 and was the beginning of an illustrious, four-decade career for the country legend. He was soon winning awards left and right, from ACMs to Grammys; Strait was first crowned Entertainer of the Year in 1989.
And Strait’s records sold like hotcakes: His Pure Country album — the soundtrack to a 1992 movie of the same name, which Strait also starred in — has sold over 6 million copies. In 2006, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and although he retired from touring in 2014, Strait hasn’t closed the door on his country music career forever. After all, he’s the King of Country.
Click through the photo gallery below to relive some of the highlights of Strait’s noteworthy career: