Story by the Associated Press; curated by Zach Noble
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — It's the end of the trail for country music king George Strait, who will wrap up his final tour Saturday with a star-filled show at the lavish home of the Dallas Cowboys in his home state of Texas.
George Strait performs on stage at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
The show brings an end to nearly 40 years on the road for Strait, which started in 1975 with the Ace in the Hole Band. And he plans to do it in style, inviting several of country's biggest stars, including Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Eric Church.
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 06: A general view of the atmosphere a day before George Strait's 'The Cowboy Rides Away Tour' final stop at AT&T Stadium on June 6, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for George Strait)
Yet the focus will still be on the 62-year-old singer, who is beloved in country music with a career decades longer than most. He's had more songs top Billboard's country music charts than any other musician. And while he's quitting the road, he may yet add to his chart-topping total after renewing his deal with MCA Records last year to produce five more albums.
"It's a little bittersweet to know that some of these places, I'll never go back to, never play again," Strait said at a news conference at AT&T Stadium in September. "It's sad for me, but I'm taking it all in and the crowd, they're giving it to me."
Strait's 1981 single "Unwound" propelled him to stardom. His first No. 1 hit came the following year with "Fool Hearted Memory" and he's now had 44 songs spend time atop Billboard's country music rankings. He has more gold and platinum albums than any other artist except for Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
He's just as successful on the road. His 584 shows since 1990 have grossed more than $405 million.
Born in Poteet and raised in Pearsall, about 60 miles southwest of San Antonio, Strait's spare honky-tonk style, barroom ballads and cowboy dress helped inspire a generation of country music artists, including most who will share the stage Saturday night.
Tickets for Strait's last show — his 46th performance of the two-year Cowboy Rides Away tour — were selling Friday for an average of $688 on the secondary market, according to TiqIQ.com.