WHO'S GONNA FILL HIS SHOES

As George Strait turns 50, could he be hinting at retirement?

Story by Bob Paxman

More than 20 years ago, George Strait strolled through the lobby of MCA Records in Nashville, brimming with self-confidence. The 28-year-old Texan had beaten the odds, signing a record deal with MCA after years of knocking around on the rugged Texas honky-tonk circuit. Finally, he thought to himself, the dream had come true.

But a display of gold records on the lobby walls sent him reeling back down to earth.

"I looked at them and thought, 'Good grief! If I could just get me one of those I'd be happy,' " George once recalled.

Fast forward to 2002, and you'll definitely find a happy man. George has far exceeded that 1981 dream of just one gold record. In fact, he has collected far heftier numbers - 25 platinum albums, 36 No. 1 hits and more than 50 million total albums sold. His latest CD, The Road Less Traveled, is rocketing its way to the million mark, powered by the smash hit "Run."

No wonder his fellow artists have dubbed him "King George."

But the king turns the big 5-0 this May - and questions are starting to burn. What's left to accomplish when you've been on top for two decades? Is it time to leave the throne and pass the crown to a worthy star-in-waiting?

Read more about George Strait and what lies in the future of one of country's greats, in the current Newsstand Issue!

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