Country music legend George Strait's performance before a record-breaking audience of 68,266 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last March, including former President Bush and wife Barbara, marked the event's final appearance at the historic Astrodome after 37 years. It also proved to be the perfect occasion for his first-ever live album.
After all, who better to celebrate the historic event than this homegrown Texas treasure, a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the host of the George Strait Team Roping Classic.
The Lone Star native, who came from the small southwestern ranch towns of Poteet and Pearsall to become one of the biggest stars in popular music, chose that setting to record For the Last Time: George Strait Live from the Astrodome. It's his 30th album for MCA Nashville-the only label he's ever called home. For the Last Time will be in stores on February 11th and the accompanying DVD, which offers several bonus tracks, comes out on March 4th.
Since his 1981 debut, Strait Country, through last year's 20th Century Masters Millennium Collection Best of, Strait has earned 25 platinum albums, including discs that have gone seven-times platinum ('95's Strait out of the Box) and six-times platinum ('92's Pure Country), with four more that have scored triple-platinum. Not to mention his four American Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music honors and 15 Country Music Association nods, among his record 70 nominations.
Co-produced by Strait and longtime collaborator Tony Brown (working on his 12th Strait album), For the Last Time... features the country music icon's regular touring group, The Ace in the Hole Band. The band includes such veteran Strait cohorts as lead guitarist/fiddle player Benny McArthur, lead guitarist Rick McRae, steel guitar player Mike Daily, bassist Terry Hale, keyboardists Rondal Huckaby and Gene Elders on fiddle and guitar. "George has had the same road band forever," says Brown. "And they are the best there is. He wouldn't be comfortable on stage without them."
This new 16-song collection sports a full eight of his record-shattering 50 #1 country hits, including his latest chart topper, "She'll Leave You With A Smile." It's one of three songs on the record from his most recent studio album, 2001's Road Less Traveled, along with the seductive "Run" and "Living and Living Well," his earnest, buoyant tribute to sharing the good life with someone you love.
Other selections include early fan favorites like the Terry Stafford/Paul Fraser-penned "Amarillo by Morning," originally on his 1982 sophomore album, Strait From the Heart, and the '85 country chart-topper, Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon's "The Chair" (from the Jimmy Bowen-produced Something Special). There are also hits like Larry Cordle and Larry Shell's "Murder on Music Row," their controversial jibe at the modern country music business-performed as a duet by George and Alan Jackson. "I think I can remember his part," jokes Strait on-stage before performing the song.