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George Strait begins his farewell ride

The country music icon's “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour” will stop Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013

“I just don't want to go to the point where I show up and nobody else does, you know?” Strait, who rarely does interviews, told the AP. “It's been great. I've been doing it for 30-some odd years and I've loved it.

“Sometimes I've not liked it as much. And here lately it's just the walking out onstage part, that's all great. I'm still loving that. It's just the hectic part about touring and traveling and bam bam bam bam. I just feel like it's time for me to try something else.”

The Academy of Country Music Artist of the Decade said at the time he plans to keep recording new music and play select dates around the country at the end of the tour.

“When I do walk off this stage for the last time, and I'm all settled in, away from all this, you won't be far away. I'll still hear your screams and cheers in my mind.” — George Strait, “I'll Always Remember You.”

From the first time he heard him sing, George Strait changed Tommy Foote's life. The drummer had given up on his musical dreams and moved to Houston when his former bandmates called him back to San Marcos to audition a new singer for their group, the Ace in the Hole Band.

“I heard him sing once and quit my job and moved back up here and slept on couches. Because back then, I didn't really know enough about the music business, but I knew enough to know that this was my shot,” Foote said in a 2010 interview.

“Given his success and his stature, everything I say now almost sounds like a cliche, but it absolutely is sincere that he had a presence and a vocal ability from day one that just made him stand out.”

Three of the four original band members still tour with Strait, including Foote, who moved from drummer to road manager in 1983. He said the singer has always had a gift for knowing when to stick with what works and when to take a risk on something new. Like a music career without the road, for instance.

“He does have a surprising ability to think out of the box. I think ‘Pure Country' was about as out of the box as you could get,” Foote said with a laugh, referring to the 1992 film that marked Strait's acting debut.

“Really and truly, what you see is what you get,” he added. “Like the first time I met George, he was wearing a hat. So it's never been any kind of calculated master plan. I think he's always focused on finding the best songs possible that he was comfortable singing.”

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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