Recording artist George Strait performs during one of his exclusive worldwide engagements, "Strait to Vegas" at T-Mobile Arena on September 9, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Long May He Reign: Little Big Town, Caitlyn Smith + More Share Why George Strait is the King of Country

71 years ago today (May 18) royalty was born in the small Texas town of Poteet. Country music royalty, that is. In his over 30-year recording career, George Strait has earned the moniker known by every country music fan from Marina del Rey to Amarillo: the King of Country.

It's high praise to be sure — and certainly not one that the humble Texan has placed on himself. But Strait's whopping 60 No. 1 hits — a testament to the King's knack for choosing timeless songs (evidenced by his longterm partnership with songwriting great Dean Dillon) — and record shattering career feats has led both Strait's heroes and peers to name him as one of country music's greatest living legends.

Strait superfan Garth Brooks, who penned his iconic "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" with the "Amarillo By Morning" singer in mind, once said "I can't carry George Strait's shoelaces."

Over three decades into his legendary career, the Country Music Hall of Famer is still inspiring songs (Scotty McCreery's "Damn Strait" to name just one) and countless careers, with hitmakers such as McCreery, Jon Pardi, Cody Johnson and many more looking to Strait as a guiding light.

We asked country artists, including tourmates Little Big Town and Caitlyn Smith, just what makes George Strait the forever reigning King of Country.

Little Big Town

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: (L-R) Musicians Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, George Strait and Kimberly Schlapman and Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town attend the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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"He just is. He always has been and always will be. He has given us the soundtrack for our lives. Real stories from a real cowboy."

Caitlyn Smith

Caitlyn Smith at the after party for the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards from Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas.

Christopher Polk/Penske Media via Getty Images

"With 60 number ones and a career spanning over four decades, George Strait is a master class in country music. Plus, he's a real cowboy."


GEORGE, WASHINGTON - JULY 29: Singer Ernest performs on the Next From Nashville stage during the Watershed Country Music Festival at Gorge Amphitheatre on July 29, 2022 in George, Washington.

Mat Hayward/Getty Images

"George Strait was the soundtrack to many rides in my dad's truck. I had the 50 Number Ones (double) CD for as long as I can remember. The songs on there helped shape me without me even realizing it at the time. Songs like "The Chair," "Ocean Front Property" and "The Best Day," resonated with me at a very young age. No other artist makes me as nostalgic as George Strait. He was the perfect guy for those songs he sang, and he made a career out of picking the best songs from the best writers. Without George Strait, I doubt I would be who or where I am today. He is one artist I'd love to meet, let alone have a song with."

Jake Worthington

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: Singer Jake Worthington performs on Day 2 of Live In The Vineyard Goes Country at the Uptown Theatre at Uptown Theatre on April 26, 2023 in Napa, California.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

"There's two people I grew up knowing who didn't have to leave their boots at the door. Jesus & George Strait."

Mackenzie Carpenter

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - APRIL 16: Mackenzie Carpenter performs onstage during day three of Tortuga Music Festival on April 16, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jason Koerner/Getty Images

"I truly believe that he's earned his title by being true to himself, being true to his sound and just making amazing music for years and years," Carpenter, whose recent release "Don't Mess With Exes" was inspired by Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas," tells Wide Open Country. "So y'all go wish him a happy birthday."


READ MORE: The Ultimate Road Trip for George Strait Fans, From Marina Del Rey to Amarillo