You'll never meet a more humble cowboy than George Strait. Side one is a country music giant who, since his monumental debut in 1981, has sold over 60 million albums and raked up 50 number one songs-more than any other single artist in history. He holds the Country Music Association's all time record for most career nominations with a total of 71. He's been the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year five times, and is the only artist to be so honored in two different decades. He's sold out thousands of concerts nation-wide, performed for current and former Presidents, and starred in his own hit movie, Pure Country. Most recently, in 2003, he received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush, was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and received the Academy of Country Music's Gene Weed Award for Special Achieve-ment. And that's all just the tip of the steer's horn for awards and accomplishments.
Meanwhile, on the flip side, the Poteet, Texas native is quick to count his blessings and views himself as nothin' but a cowboy. Proof positive-he recorded a recent hit single "Cowboys Like Us." And, like us, he idolizes Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper, and Speed Williams and Rich Skelton. And, of course, he ropes every chance he gets. He's a man of few words, until, as with any cowboy, you mention the topics of horses, cattle, and ropin'.
"Team roping is my passion," Strait confessed. "It plays a huge role in my life. When I'm home, which is more and more these days, I try to rope every day and as long as I'm able. I'll always try to improve my roping, because you only get out of it what you put into it, and it's a constant effort to get better. I, like every other team roper out there, admire Jake and Clay," he continued. "Their talents are incredible, and they both showed the world that they're far from finished at the Wrangler NFR last December. I'm also a huge fan of Speed and Rich. They don't show any signs of slowing down either. Speed was certainly named appropriately, wasn't he?" he quipped.
Although he grew up in a ranching environment, Strait didn't get bit by the competitive team roping bug until he was in his early twenties. Initially, he took a swing at teaching himself. "By doing that, I managed to pick up a few bad habits that I constantly work on to this day," he said. "That's why it's important to have a good teacher. I'm not saying you can't learn on your own, but I think it's important to learn some proper fundamentals and then build on those. That way, you probably won't have to do as much tweaking later on if you avoid getting into bad habits."
In this case, help with the fundamentals came via dear friend and fellow roper, Bret Beach, who Strait credits for helping him with his roping more than anyone.