George Harvey Strait Sr. (born May 18, 1952) is an American country music singer, songwriter, actor, and music producer. George Strait is known as the "King of Country" and is considered one of the most influential and popular recording artists of all time. He is known for his neotraditionalist country style, cowboy look, and being one of the first and main country artists to bring country music back to its roots and away from the pop country era in the 1980s.
Strait's success began when his first single "Unwound" was a hit in 1981. During the 1980s, seven of his albums reached number one on the country charts. In the 2000s, Strait was named Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music, was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and won his first Grammy award for the album Troubadour. Strait was named CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 2013, and ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1990 and 2014. He has been nominated for more CMA and ACM awards and has more wins in both categories than any other artist.
By 2009, he broke Conway Twitty's previous record for the most number-one hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart when his 44 number one singles surpassed Twitty's 40. Counting all music charts, Strait has amassed a total of 60 number-one hits, breaking a record also previously set by Twitty, giving him more number one songs than any other artist in any genre of music.
Strait is also known for his touring career when he designed a 360-degree configuration and introduced festival style tours. For example, the Strait Tours earned $99 million in three years. His concert at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in June 2014 drew 104,793 people, marking a new record for largest indoor concert in North America.
Strait has sold more than 70 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His certifications from the RIAA include 13 multi-platinum, 33 platinum, and 38 gold albums. His best-selling album is Pure Country (1992), which sold 6 million (6× platinum). His highest certified album is Strait Out of the Box (1995), which sold 2 million copies (8× Platinum due to being a box set with four CDs). According to the RIAA, Strait is the 12th best-selling album recording artist in the United States overall.
George Harvey Strait Sr. was born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas, to John Byron Strait Sr. (January 11, 1922 – June 4, 2013), and Doris Jean Couser (June 26, 1930 – January 30, 2010).
He grew up in nearby Pearsall, in Frio County, where his father was a junior high school mathematics teacher and the owner of a 2,000-acre (810 ha) cattle ranch outside of Big Wells, Texas. The family worked at the ranch on the weekends and in the summers. When George was in the fourth grade, his father and mother were divorced, and his mother moved away with his sister, Pency. George and his brother John Jr. (1950–2009), were raised by their father.
Strait began his musical interest while attending Pearsall High School, where he played in a rock and rollgarage band. The Beatles were popular when Strait was in high school. "The Beatles were big", Strait confirmed. "I listened to them a lot and that whole bunch of groups that were popular then". His musical preference soon turned to country with singers Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, and Frank Sinatra influencing his style. Strait did not tune to the country music radio often as a youth, usually listening to the news and the farmer's report. His introduction to country music came mostly by way of live performances, which, according to Strait, could be heard in every town in Texas.