King George: Thompson Square, Darius Rucker & More On George Strait’s Influence
George Strait is set to hit a record no artist has reached before. If his current single “Give It All We Got Tonight” makes it to No. 1 on the country charts, he’ll be the only artist to have 60 No. 1 hits on any Billboard chart. Moreover, if the song reaches No. 1 this week, Strait will have earned 60 number ones by the age of 60 (his 61st is this Saturday, May 18).
In a series of recent interviews, Radio.com chatted with country stars about George Strait. Their stories and memories about King George and his music are further proof why he’s among the most revered artists in country music.
Thompson Square, Florida Georgia Line and Darius Rucker are no strangers to the No. 1 spot, as their respective singles — “If I Didn’t Have You,” “Get Your Shine On” and “Wagon Wheel” — have all gone to to the top of the country charts in recent weeks. A testament to George Strait, each artist is rooting for him to nab the No. 1 position once again.
Thompson Square‘s Keifer Thompson said Strait is the reason many artists decide to pursue country music, where Darius Rucker recalled one of his first memories of Strait as a country artist. Florida Georgia Line, Ashley Monroe and Tate Stevens also chimed in with their thoughts and feelings about King George.
“I grew up listening to George Strait’s music, wearing out at least two box sets,” Thompson admitted. “Some of my favorite George Strait songs are ‘The Chair,’ ‘Marina Del Rey.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung ‘The Fireman,’ ‘Unwound.’”
His wife and musical partner Shawna Thompson agreed. “It’s so hard to pick a favorite, there are so many,” she said.
Keifer toured with George Strait years ago when playing guitar for another artist and got to see him live firsthand each night, an experience he’ll never forget.
“That was pretty cool to go out and see that every night. There’s nothing else like that,” he said.
While Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard had trouble picking one favorite George Strait song, both said they grew up listening to Strait.
“There’s so many great hits,” Hubbard said. “He’s got 59 number ones. That’s insane. I’ve never heard of anything like that. I don’t think the Beatles did that, I don’t think Elvis did that. I don’t think anybody had 59 number ones. Hopefully this one will be another number one and he can go home with a big 6-0.”
Ashley Monroe said she’s never heard a bad song from King George.
“There’s a great example of a guy that knows great songs — really great songs,” Monroe said. “I remember when my mom and I were moving to Nashville. I just got his box set and just played them over and over again. George, he doesn’t have to do any tricks. He gets up there and sings these songs that are so important, and you know he cares, and that’s all that he needs to do.”
As Rucker was recording his debut country album, 2008′s Learn To Live, he couldn’t believe “Give It Away” was Strait’s newest single.
“I will never forget writing my first record. I’m driving around listening to country radio, and I’m going to play golf, and ‘Give It Away’ comes on the radio. The moment he started talking on that song I instantly got it,” he said. “The song goes off and I call up [producer] Frank Rogers and I go, ‘You know that old George Strait song? That song is awesome.’ And he’s like, ‘Dude, that’s his new single.’ I was like, ‘I’m up against that!?’”
Rucker and Tate Stevens both agree that Strait makes listeners forget he doesn’t write his own songs. “He just delivers a song like nobody else,” Rucker said.
“When you go to a show and you play nothing but number ones,” Stevens said, “that’s awesome.”