- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Country music king George Strait capped off the last tour of his career with an epic, star-studded final performance at the billion-dollar stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play, dazzling an audience of nearly 105,000 people with duet after duet with some of the biggest names in country music.

The attendance shattered the previous record set by The Rolling Stones at The Louisiana Superdome in 1981. More than 10,000 fans alone took in the three-hour show from the stadium floor.

“Oh, man. I tell you what. This is too much fun,” he said.

Known for his honky-tonk style, classic interpretation of Western swing and Texas cowboy get-up, the 62-year-old Strait is the undisputed patriarch of a generation of country music stars, none of whom left the stage Saturday without paying homage to or receiving a hug from the country music legend.


“In the early 80s when I was a young man in Georgia, I was a big fan of ‘Unwound,’” Alan Jackson said of the 1981 hit that propelled Strait to stardom. “You’re the reason I came to Nashville, Tennessee. God bless you.”

Jason Aldean credited Strait as “not only a huge influence for me but everyone else in Nashville.”

After Martina McBride joined Strait to sing “Jackson,” the country classic made famous by the Johnny Cash-June Carter rendition, she remarked on the fun the two had on tour together in 2011 and 2012.

Kenny Chesney called the two years he spent on the road with Strait early in his career “the most educational” in his touring life.

Strait’s son, Bubba, a pro team roper on the rodeo circuit, even joined his dad on stage to perform his songwriting debut, “Arkansas Dave.”

The unusually chatty Strait appeared to bask in the enormous crowd of fans, standing at their seats, swaying and singing along, regularly raising his arms like a band conductor to raise the volume.

“That’s what I’m going to miss the most right there, I tell you what. Thank you so much,” he said.

Strait is also beloved by his legions of fans for his gracious, everyman demeanor, which was in ample display Saturday.

During the second half of the show, he played the 2011 hit “I’ll Always Remember You,” which he said was inspired by his fans.

“When I take the stage for the last time, you won’t be far away,” he said, inspiring some enthusiastic female fans to tear up.

“Damn, I’m so lucky,” Strait said so many times, it became almost a refrain.

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