Eric Church was only four years old when George Strait had his first Top 10 single, 'Unwound,' in 1981. But in spite of the age gap between the two artists, Church says he has a lot in common with the King of Country.

"There's certain people you just kind of hit it off with," he tells "You think George Strait, with 61 No. 1 hits -- it wasn't always like that. When George came to town, cowboy hats and cowboys were not in vogue."

Church, too, has tested the boundaries of the genre, earning a mixed response from the music industry until his platinum-selling 'Chief' album in 2011. The 'Talladega' singer says Strait's tenacity was inspirational to him.

"There's a commonality in our career paths," Church notes. "We were doing it our own way at a time when everybody was doing it a different way. I don't have any more respect for anybody else than I do for George Strait. I respect him more than anyone. It's been great to get know him and become friends with him and have somebody you can talk to about certain things."

And it seems the admiration goes both ways. When Church won Album of the Year for 'The Outsiders' at the 2014 American Country Countdown Awards, it was Strait who first reached out to him to offer congratulations.

"The first person I heard from [after the show] was George Strait," Church recalls. "That says a lot about him. Before I heard from my mom, I heard from George."

Strait and Church performed 'Cowboys Like Us' together at the 2014 CMA Awards. Watch their performance here.

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