Kenny Chesney sells more concert tickets, Brad Paisley makes more creative videos and Tim McGraw lands on more magazine covers. But George Strait, 58, who is about to start his fourth decade as a country singer, is still the king of country music. Here are 10 reasons why.
1 He has scored a record 44 No. 1 singles on Billboard's country chart, from "Fool Hearted Memory" in 1982 to "River of Love" in 2008.
2 He has landed a single in Billboard's country Top 10 in each of the past 30 years (including "I Gotta Get to You" in 2010). He's the only artist in any genre to accomplish that.
3 The Texan has incredible staying power. In his third decade in the business, a time when many established stars coast, Strait was honored as artist of the decade -- the '00s -- by the Academy of Country Music. Billboard topped that, in June, by naming Strait top country artist of the past 25 years.
4 The respect for his consistently quality work never ends. His "Twang" is nominated for album of the year in next month's Country Music Association Awards. He has received a record 81 CMA nominations and won an unprecedented 22 trophies. No one else has captured best male vocalist in two different decades -- and he's nominated again this year.
5 He still fills arenas across the country -- and stadiums in Texas.
6 The King invites the right princesses to his touring party; this time it's Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack.
7 Strait travels with the best backup band on the arena circuit, the Ace in the Hole Band.
8 Can any male countrystar top this? He's still married to his high school sweetheart -- 39 years and counting.
9 He still has the gleam in his eyes, the megawatt smile and the handsome looks. And his voice sounds as mellifluous as ever.
10 Strait refuses to change, modernize or record with a pop star. He doesn't have to.
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719