Back before George Strait was the "King of Country" reigning in Nashville, he was just another prospective country music singer with dreams of becoming a star. Did you know that he actually began his singing career while he was serving in the U.S. Army?
The same year that the future country star married his high school sweetheart Norma, he enlisted in the United States Army, 25th Infantry Division. It was there that he bought his first guitar, taught himself music and started performing for the rest of the soldiers with a band called Rambling Country.
In one of the earliest interviews from his career, Strait discussed how his music career began while he was in the service. In this 1982 interview, the country singer had already had multiple number one hits on the Billboard chart and was starting to become incredibly popular with the ladies. You can tell from all of their screaming in the below clip.
"Well I was in the service and for some reason, I got it in me that I could sing," Strait explains to KXIX-TV in Victoria, Texas.
"I thought that I could possibly make a career out of singing so I went and I bought a guitar, I was in the army at the time, I was stationed in Hawaii. I went and bought a guitar, I started learning songs, and learned enough where I could get a band together and did that, and the last year I was in the service that's what I did for the army was sing country music."
After serving, Strait enrolled in Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas where he continued playing music, this time performing with a country band called Stoney Ridge (later renamed to Ace in the Hole Band). Thanks to MCA Records, he released his first single "Unwound," from his debut album Strait Country, in 1981 and was off to the races. He immediately made a name for himself by topping the country charts as a traditional country artist in a world where pop-country was on the rise.
Fast forward a few decades and Strait is one of the best-selling artists of all time. The Academy of Country Music named him Artist of the Decade, he's inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, he's been the ACM Entertainer of the Year twice, he won a Grammy Award for his country album Troubadour and has more CMA Awards than any other country artist. The man is a legend with the likes of fellow stars Alan Jackson, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and more. It's a good thing he stuck to his traditionalist gut. Otherwise, we wouldn't have incredible albums like Blue Clear Sky, Carrying Your Love with Me, The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium, and even the soundtrack to his film Pure Country, which all stand the test of time.
When he's not traveling the country in stadium tours, Strait spends time with his wife Norma in San Antonio with whom he welcomed son Bubba, who was once a roping competitor at the rodeo, and daughter Jenifer (who passed away in 1986).
Now Watch: The 15 Best Kenny Rogers Songs, Ranked
Enjoy Country Music?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.