Charlie Cook On Air: George Strait

Recently George Strait announced that is next tour is his final tour. Country music, country radio and country music fans are worse for this news. George says he is not retiring from the scene, just that he is done with touring. So maybe it is just the concert-going fans who are going to be disappointed.

Hopefully we’ll get a new CD every year filled with more number one songs.

I have to wonder if George appearing at the UMG Ryman Auditorium show during Country Radio Seminar was a tipoff, and was this his way of saying goodbye to his programmer fans? If it was, thank you George.

George Strait is arguably the most important artist ever on country radio. He has been on country radio for over 30 years. George usually had three or even four singles a year on the chart, and 59 number one records.

Fifty-nine different times a country radio disc jockey got to say, “Here’s a new number one from King George.”

I have only one story about George and it goes back to 1981. George was a newbie and Erv Woolsey was working hard to get him recognized. I was the host of a show called “Cook’s Country News.”  It was a little interview show and we did 14 of them a week. I was always looking for artists to interview and we were able to track down just about everyone.

I was attending the Country Radio Seminar and I kept getting poked by Erv to interview a relatively new act. I remember sitting in my hotel room at Opryland talking to a soft spoken guy who still was not getting radio airplay. Or much of it. He was a rancher trying to live out a dream. I certainly didn’t see it.

Darn. I wish I had gotten him to autograph something.

There are a lot of people though who can take pride in being part of his team. They should be applauded. Many people will write about George’s career and you’ll get the numbers, the ups and the downs in those articles. I would rather go underneath.

We should start with the aforementioned Erv Woolsey. He has become very successful through his relationship with George but Erv was THE driving force early on and without his efforts I don’t believe that I would be writing this column today about George Strait.

Second on that list has to be Dean Dillon. Dean was an RCA act when I first met him in about 1980. I loved his relaxed approach to his singing career. Maybe a little too relaxed, which is why it didn’t last long. But doggone it he a great writer. Dean just kept writing George Strait hits.

I don’t know what year George and Tony Brown hooked up in the studio but he has been there for a long time and has been a huge driver of Strait music. Tony was also an executive at George’s record label years ago. Even more career influence in that manner.

Bruce Hinton was a significant force at MCA records in those days. As were Shelia Shipley (now Biddy) and Scott Borchetta.

I can’t possibly name all of the regional promotion people over the years that worked Strait music or the thousands of disc jockeys who played his music but they all played a role.

After all, you can’t build a career like George Strait’s all by yourself.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow)

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