Joe Nichols can certainly hold his own as a classic country singer, but he credits two legendary performers on influencing his singing style -- Merle Haggard and George Strait. King George is also a role model for the 'Gimmie That Girl' singer in terms of a career, as well.

"His philosophy is what I want to be, that's the kind of career I want to have," Joe tells The Boot. "He defines longevity and at a peak. Musically, he's traditional. He's the guy all guys want to be and he's the guy all girls want to be with, and that sometimes can make for a great combination for a popular guy. [laughs] His music is rock solid. It's been that since he started, traditional country. He's never strayed too far from where he originally started, and it's always been there like a friend, like a longtime companion that's that steady kind of shoulder. You can say, 'Man, I can always buy his record and expect great country music.'"

In fact, at one point, Joe was set to play the role George made famous in the Broadway adaptation of the film 'Pure Country.' However, when the schedule was pushed back due to budget cuts, Joe was not able to clear his schedule for a second time to do the musical. "I deeply wanted to do that show," says the singer. "I thought it was going to be a great experience for me, and I thought it would be a great way to represent country music."

One thing Joe is able to do is perform for his fans, and he is set to perform in Gleason, Wis., on Thursday, and he is currently heading up the country charts with his single, 'The Shape I'm In.'

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