"I had second thoughts about it, and third thoughts," says the 60-year-old. "Walking up on stage is still so much fun for me. Such a thrill ... there's nothing like it. I'll miss that."
With more than 65 million albums sold, and a record-setting string of 59 No. 1 singles since his first, "Fool Hearted Memory" in 1982, George Strait has gone on to become one of country music's true icons. In 2006, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Earlier this month, at the ceremony honoring the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees, George was on hand to pay tribute to Garth Brooks, who cites the elder statesman as one of his chief inspirations.
"I've been blessed with the ability to sing, and that has taken me so many places I never would have gone otherwise," says George, whose current single is the just-released "Give It All We Got Tonight." "I've had great people around me from the beginning ... and they never tried to make me someone I wasn't. I've got great fans. Some of them have been coming out since the '80s, and that means so much to me. They have been so loyal."
The latest issue of People Country, which also features Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and more, will be on newsstands this Friday, Nov. 2. The Cowboy Rides Away tour, which will include Martina McBride as George's opening act, kicks off on January 18 in Lubbock, Texas. See a list of the tour dates here.