George Strait Shatters Attendance Records at Farewell Concert
The cowboy sure rode away in style. George Strait performed the final concert of his touring career Saturday night (June 7) in Arlington, Texas, and set new attendance records in the process.
Strait drew 104,793 fans to AT&T Stadium for the final date of his the Cowboy Rides Away Tour. That broke an indoor concert attendance record for North America that had stood since 1981, when the Rolling Stones drew 87,500 fans to the Louisiana Superdome.
The country legend performed a massive three-hour show that presented an impressive 40 songs, including 20 of Strait's record 60 No. 1 hits.
An all-star cast assembled to help Strait say goodbye. Vince Gill joined him onstage for 'Lovebug,' Jason Aldean helped out with 'Fool Hearted Memory' and 'Nobody in His Right Mind Would Have Left Her,' and Eric Church was on hand to duet with Strait on 'Cowboys Like Us' and 'Easy Come Easy Go.'
Sheryl Crow joined Strait for 'Here for a Good Time' and 'When Did You Stop Loving Me,' and Martina McBride lent her talents to two classic covers -- 'Jackson' and 'Golden Ring.' Faith Hill sang 'A Showman's Life' and 'Let's Fall to Pieces Together' with Strait, and Alan Jackson joined him for 'Amarillo by Morning' and 'Murder on Music Row.'
After Strait closed with 'Unwound,' all of his special guests returned to the stage to join him for an all-star encore that included 'All My Ex's Live in Texas,' 'Folsom Prison Blues' and, appropriately, 'The Cowboy Rides Away.'
The evening also marked the retirement of Bruce Hardy, who spent more than 30 years as the general manager of Texas Stadium and AT&T stadium. Strait took some time onstage to present a million-dollar home to Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry -- a Medal of Honor recipient -- and his wife Ashley as part of the Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program from the Military Warrior Support Foundation. The couple were the 51st to receive a house during the course of the tour.
Strait admits that saying goodbye was harder than he expected.
"I knew it would be kind of emotional but I was still a little surprised to feel it that strongly," he tells People magazine. "The first three or four shows in 2013 were the toughest, but every night it was in the back of my mind to take it all in, because I probably wouldn't ever come back there again. It made me want to put on the best show we've ever done there. I hope we did that. I feel like we did."
Though Saturday night's show brought an end to Strait's touring career, he is not retiring. He recently extended his contract with MCA for five more albums, and he has said that he will likely continue to perform sporadically.