George Strait Reveals He Wanted to Be ‘Like Merle Haggard or George Jones’

George Strait, who said he hopes for a career like George Jones, attends the 51st annual ASCAP Country Music Awards at Music City Center on November 4, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee.

While discussing career longevity, country music star George Strait revealed he always hoped for a long career like Merle Haggard or George Jones.

He’s earned dozens of number-one hits on the country charts and is among the artists with the most gold-and platinum-certified albums behind Elvis Presley and The Beatles. He also turned 70 in 2022 and is still popular with his fans, so he seems to have durability in the bag.

Here’s what he had to say about it.

George Strait | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

George Strait said his secret to success was believing in what he was doing: ‘You have to believe in yourself.’

In an interview with Cowboys and Indians Magazine, Strait shared his secret to longevity, though he wasn’t confident that’s what it was. He noted, “Staying focused and believing that what you’re doing is good [and] is important; you have to believe in yourself.”

“I always felt like I knew what worked for me and what didn’t,” he offered, adding, “That might not be the key to longevity — but who can honestly even say what might be?”

Strait, who’s been married for more than 50 years, explained that he hasn’t been able to play live shows as he used to, which changed how he views his time onstage with his fans. “It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation for me,” he shared. “I miss it sometimes, but I know if I went hard like I used to, then I would wind up burning myself out.”

He added, “I think I’m on the right pace now, but I do love playing live shows. There’s nothing like it and words can’t describe the feeling you get playing for a big audience. I’ve got great fans, and I count my blessings that I’m still able to do that.”

George Strait hoped for a career like Merle Haggard or George Jones: ‘Those guys are still relevant.’

(L-R) George Strait and George Jones | Ed Rode/WireImage

Strait explained that when he thought of longevity, he “just always knew that [he] wanted a career like Merle Haggard or George Jones.”

“I wanted to still be relevant when I got older,” he said. “Those guys are still relevant and always will be in my book.”

According to CMT, Jones scored almost 80 top-10 and 10 number-one country singles in 50 years as a solo artist. And, per the Country Music Hall of Fame, Haggard “stands, with the arguable exception of Hank Williams, as the single most influential singer-songwriter in country music history. He was one of country music’s most versatile artists, stylistically mining honky-tonk, blues, jazz, pop, and folk.”

George Strait is a consistent country music artist

According to the Country Music Hall of Fame “Strait’s musical consistency and unadorned performing style continue to make him as one of American music’s most popular artists. He has earned forty-four #1 Billboard country hits, more than any other artist, and ranks third — behind Elvis Presley and the Beatles — among artists with the most gold-and platinum-certified albums.”

With a new album in the future for 2023 and still touring at 70, Strait has undoubtedly solidified that long career he hoped for. So, what might be next for him? “I have given serious thought to a documentary, although I tend to procrastinate these days, so right now, a thought is all it is,” he told Cowboys and Indians.

He also shared, “I love to be outside. I play a lot of golf now so, if the weather is good, I’m usually doing that. I just came back from a golf trip to Scotland, and it was amazing.”