Saturday night in Dallas, country fans witnessed the end of an era.
While there is plenty to be excited about in country music these days, there are those of us who simply can’t imagine a world without George Strait on the road. And yet, it appears we’ll have to. On Saturday, King George wrapped up a 2-year farewell tour with a homecoming concert for the record books, filling the Dallas Cowboys stadium way past its official capacity with a crowd of 105,000, making it the largest assembled North American crowd for an indoor concert in the history of concerts. An all-star lineup of guest artists showed up to help him with his sendoff, including Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney and others.
Even more impressive than this concert attendance are the records he leaves behind, and not just the records you buy in the stores or download from iTunes. George Strait has the third largest number of Gold and Platinum albums of any artist in history, coming in only behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley. He also holds the record of more Billboard top-ten hits than any artist, ever, as well as the record for most number-one country songs. Not a bad legacy for a country artist known for his understated style of traditional Texas western swing.
All that said, we haven’t heard the last of George Strait. He recently signed a contract extension with MCA Records for another five albums (which will likely extend his charting streak, as well)—and don’t think for a moment that MCA won’t hold him to it. But he has officially left the road, and that hurts a little. After all, beyond the concert attendance records and the chart-toppers, George Strait’s greatest legacy is that he retires from the road as perhaps the best-loved country artist in the history of the genre, as demonstrated by the crowds who piled into the stadium Saturday night to see his final live performance. Despite all the terrific rising stars in country music today…for some of us, George Strait will always be the King of Country.