Eleven years ago today, on Sept. 26, 2012, George Strait shocked the country music community by announcing that he was retiring from touring. The King of Country Music held a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame, announcing that his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour would be his farewell tour; the trek kicked off in January of 2013 and ran through June of 2014.

“I always had it in the back of my mind, when I turned 60, it might be the time to start thinking about it," Strait said at the time. "I didn’t want to book a tour where nobody came.”

Still, Strait insisted that he wasn't retiring entirely from country music, but instead wanted to focus solely on making albums. "I’m still going to try and make a record every year,” he said. “I’m feeling a little antsy about getting back in the studio.”

During his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour, Strait released his Love Is Everything album, in May of 2013. Two years later, in September 2015, he dropped Cold Beer Conversation, and Honky Tonk Time Machine followed in March of 2019.

Strait's final stop on his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour broke attendance records, with 104,793 fans packing AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the June 7, 2014, concert. At the show, the country legend was joined by Vince Gill, Jason Aldean, Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney for some of his biggest hits, including "Amarillo By Morning," "The Chair" and "Give It Away," among others. Martina McBride, who was Strait's opening act for his entire tour, also joined in on the fun at the historic show.

Still, the Texan hadn't completely ruled out an eventual return to stage: “In 2016, I might say, ‘What a dummy,'" he quipped back in 2012. "If that’s the case, I’ll reconsider.” And on Sept. 22, 2015, Strait announced that he would be playing a series of shows in Las Vegas in 2016 and 2017.

“I’m very excited to be coming back out and playing for the fans out there,” he said at the time. “I’m really looking forward to it so much … It’s gonna be exciting to get back out there again. I’m looking forward to singing those songs that I love so much.”

Although he has stayed true to his word and not launched a full tour since 2014, Strait has continued to play a few shows in Las Vegas each year.  A DVD of Strait's "final show," The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium, was released in 2015. It, as well as a live album from the concert, is available for purchase on Amazon.

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