What: George Strait in concert

AUTHOR: TABOR

What: George Strait in concert

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26

Where: Tupelo Coliseum

Opening act: Terri Clark

Tickets: sold out

The Strait Facts

Given name: George Strait

Born: May 18, 1952, Poteet, Texas

Family: Wife, Norma; Son, George Jr., “Bubba”

Vital Statistics: height 5’10”; weight 160 pounds; eyes Green; hair brown

Instruments: guitar and piano

Hobbies: Steer-roping, hunting, fishing, skiing and golf

He doesn’t give many interviews, if any. He doesn’t even have a name for his tour. George Strait doesn’t need any neon light-screaming publicity.

With 33 No. 1 hits, Strait’s impeccable reputation is what sends fans immediately to ticket outlets as soon as his concert tickets go on sale.

For Strait’s Tupelo Coliseum date Friday night, tickets sold out about four hours after they went on sale.

Mike Marion, Tupelo Coliseum director, said one of the reasons for the quick sellout was the fact that Strait has never performed in Tupelo before.

“I’ve always said he was the No. 2 request here next to Garth Brooks as far as country goes. He’s just obviously very popular,” he said.

Tupelo Coliseum marketing director Betty Baxter wasn’t surprised at the rapid sellout. “You don’t want to get cocky and think something will sell out,” she said but added they thought he would be a good draw because he was so popular and had never been here before.

Marion and Baxter had been working on booking Strait for a year and a half. “It took a lot of work,” Marion said. “His promoter is very cautious. He was concerned the Memphis date (back in November) would hurt us.

“The fact that we sold out and Memphis sold out proved that we are different places.”

Although tickets have been sold out for more than a month, fans still may have a chance to see the show. Baxter said it was possible the box office may get tickets that are released the day of the show. Fans can either line up at the box office or call the box office on the day of the show to find out about extra tickets.

Going for the goal

“I want to reach the point where people hear my name and immediately think of real country music,” George Strait told Billboard magazine in 1981 when he made his debut. Record sales and awards indicate that Strait is definitely the country music icon he set out to be. His track record for the last 15 years boasts of selling more than 30 million records and garnering numerous awards including CMA Entertainer of the Year for 1989 and 1990, ACM Entertainer of the Year for 1989, and several Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year awards.

Born in 1952 near San Antonio, Strait was raised in the rural community of Pearsall where cattle ranching was a big priority. The son of a junior high school teacher, a music career never really occurred to Strait. After graduation he eloped with his high school sweetheart, Norma, and was going to settle for ranching life as a living.

In 1971 duty called and Strait was shipped off to Hawaii to help the country’s cause in Vietnam. Strait’s calling to war was also his calling to a career. In 1973 Strait became the lead singer of a group assembled to entertain the troops. After the war, he enrolled at Southwest Texas State to pursue a career in agriculture education as well as music. Wanting to get back into singing, Strait posted a notice on campus advertising for a band. Shortly after, he met up with a group of students which later became the Ace in the Hole Band. Strait and the band became a major attraction that fall for honky tonks around San Antonio making several Nashville connections. They recorded three singles between 1976 and 1979 but none were goes.

In 1979 Strait got his degree and was hired as a foreman for a ranch near San Marcos. Working days and playing nights took its toll on the singer. Tired of playing in honky tonks, Strait, 27, was on the brink of letting go of his music career. A week before he was about to start another job, Strait decided to give it one more chance. He contacted Erv Woolsey, a former club owner who had become the vice president of promotion for MCA records in Nashville. Woolsey persuaded Strait to come back to Nashville and make more demo recordings. Finally in 1981, Strait had a record year. His first son, George Jr. (Bubba) was born; he signed with MCA; and his first single, “Unwound” peaked at No. 6 on Billboard. Since that first hit, Strait himself unwound and recorded 18 more albums, all which have either achieved gold or platinum status. In addition, he starred in the box office hit “Pure Country,” and the movie’s soundtrack proved to be his best-selling album ever racking up sales of 4 million copies.

Bet on it

At the box office Dusty Chandler (Strait) broke hearts everywhere and in real life the singer continues to charm the ladies. With his honest-to-goodness green eyes that beam a doting father and husband, his humble half smile and clean-cut style, Strait has the women swooning and screaming at his concerts.

His unintentional charm combined with his consistent country hits has made him one of the most popular and familiar country artists in the country music industry. Yet, Strait remains a Texas stranger to many, including his own press agents, who don’t have a healthy file on the entertainer.

One of his agents said he had a bad experience with the press, and since, has not granted many interviews or supplied his agents with a lot of biography material.

With Strait it’s pretty much “What You See is What You Get,” and so seems to be the scenario for next Friday night’s Tupelo concert.

“I don’t have a clue,” Marion said about what the concert will include. “I get the impression, it’s just him and his music.”

Unlike many of his concerts, Strait will not perform in the round at the Tupelo Coliseum. The set-up will be like all Tupelo coliseum concerts with the stage at the end of the building, Marion said.

Although details about what will take place during the concert are a little sketchy, there are several things fans can bet on: 1.) Rest assured that the Texan will be wearing a hat, but whether it is black or white remains to been seen. 2.) You can also bet he’ll be wearing cowboy boots, creased blue jeans adorned by his signature silver George Strait belt buckle. 3.) Unless he tries one on for size, there shouldn’t be a song that doesn’t ring a bell. At last count (47 through mid-summer 1995) every Strait single released has hit the charts.

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