Billboard -- The past few weeks have seen a lot of speculation concerning today's George Strait press conference at The Country Music Hall of Fame. A new tour? A new album? The legendary singer answered those questions this afternoon. Yes, he is about to embark on a final tour, but don't call it a retirement because it's not.
"It's been a hard decision for me to make, but as far as touring goes, I've decided I'm not going to tour anymore after the next two years," The MCA Nashville recording artist opened up the event by saying.
However, the man with more chart-toppers than any other artist is still hoping to add to his total of 59. "Don't think I'm retiring because I'm not," he said. "I'm still going to make records as long as Mike will let me," he said, referring to his label chief Mike Dungan. "I'm going to write, and after two years, when I've quit touring, if a special event comes up that I want to do, by all means I will do it, but as far as a structured tour goes, at the last date of 2014 goes, that will be it for touring."
"The Cowboy Rides Away Tour" will begin January 18 in Lubbock, and continue through 2014. The tour takes its' title from his 1985 top ten single. "It's kind of an obvious play on words, I think," he said. I couldn't think of a song that would be any better. It's a song that we have closed our shows with for years."
Strait stressed that he wanted to close out his touring career while still attracting the crowds. "I always had it in the back of my mind when I turned 60 that it might be time to start thinking about it. I also never wanted to show up for a tour when nobody came. I believe I made the right decision. Only time will tell. In 2016, I might say 'What a dummy!" If that's the case, maybe I'll reconsider, but at this particular time, I'm pretty sure I won't."
The legendary Texan said he's looking forward to playing several cities one last time where he has made many long-lasting memories. "This is going to be a very special, emotional tour for me," he stated. "Everywhere we're going holds fond memories, and I'm looking forward to paying my respects."
Opening up for Strait on the 2013 leg of the tour will be four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Martina McBride. The singer said she jumped at the opportunity. "Any artist would be thrilled to get this phone call," she said. "With all of the amazing artists that George could have chosen from, the fact that he asked me back after our tour last year means the world to me personally."
George Strait fan club members will have an opportunity to purchase tickets beginning at 10 a.m. in the venue's respective time zone on Oct. 9, 2012, and tickets available to the general public will be available for purchase beginning Oct. 12 (same time zone restraints apply). Ticket prices start at $69.50 and may be purchased at www.georgestrait.com.
The Cowboy Rides Again -- 2013 Tour Dates
January 18: Lubbock, Texas (United Spirit Arena)
January 19: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Chesapeake Energy Arena)
January 25: Salt Lake City, Utah (Energy Solutions Arena)
January 26: Nampa, Idaho (Idaho Center)
January 31: Sacramento, Calif. (Power Balance Pavilion)
February 1: Fresno, Calif. Save Marcht Center)
February 2: Las Vegas, Nev. MGM Grand Garden Arena)
February 15: St. Paul, Minn. Xcel Energy Center)
February 16: Grand Forks, N.D. The Alerus Center)
February 22: Buffalo, N.Y. First Niagara Center)
February 23: Hartford, Conn. XL Center)
March 1: Knoxville, Tenn. Thompson-Boling Arena)
March 2: Lexington, Ky. Rupp Arena)
March 17: Houston, Texas (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo)*
March 22: Greenville, S.C. (Bi-Lo Center)
March 23: Greensboro, N.C. (Greensboro Coliseum Complex)
April 5: Albuquerque, N.M. (The Pit)
April 6: Las Cruces, N.M. (Pan American Center)
April 12: N. Little Rock, Ark. (Verizon Arena)
April 13: New Orleans, La. (New Orleans Aren)
June 1: San Antonio, Texas (Alamodome)
*Denotes previously announced tour date featuring Martina McBride and the Randy Rogers Band. ** On Sale TBD