Country music icon George Strait says the implications of his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour -- his farewell to the road -- are hitting him now, with just a few more months to go.
"It's gonna be a little bittersweet for me," Strait, 61, told reporters at a press conference to announce the final show -- a star-studded affair on June 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of his beloved Dallas Cowboys. "It's sinking in a little more and more every day. It'll be tough saying goodbye to some of those places.
"This business has allowed me to meet so many great people -- presidents and people I've looked up to in the music business, heroes of mine, icons, just incredible things...I can't imagine not ever being able to experience that feeling again."
Strait is certainly going out on top. He's sold more than 150 million albums since 1981 and has logged 60 No. 1 country hits -- more chart-toppers than any artist in any genre of music. Last year he was the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year and received career awards from the Country Radio Broadcasters Inc., ASCAP and the Billboard Touring Awards. And May 18, his birthday, has been declared George Strait Day in Texas forevermore.
But while he's coming off the road, Strait says he's not done with music. His record company, MCA Nashville, has signed him for five more years, and Strait says he hopes to do more songwriting for his future releases.
"If I have one regret in my career, which has been great...is that I kind of quit writing for years," Strait says. "Starting out I loved to write and wrote a lot, and then I just kinda got away from it and found great songs from great writers in Nashville. But now I"m getting back into it more and enjoying it a lot.
"As long as I'm enjoying it, I'm gonna keep doing it. My plan is to keep doing things here and there when I feel like it, and hopefully those opportunities will come along for me 'cause I can't see hanging it up for good, ever."
George Strait and Little Big Town perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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