George Strait is considered one of the most influential country musicians of all time but does the “King of Country” write his own songs?
George Strait has written a number of his own songs, such as “I Can’t See Texas From Here”, but the majority of his discography was written by songwriter Dean Dillon. Dillon has written more than 50 songs for Strait, in one of country music’s most successful partnerships.
For more on George Strait and his legendary partnership with Dean Dillon, read on.
George Harvey Strait was born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas, and grew up on a ranch in Pearsall. In his youth, he was more interested in rock music than country, ironic as he would lead a revival in the traditional country after the more pop-oriented tunes of the 80s.
After a year in college at Southwest Texas State University, Strait was married and decided to enlist in the army in 1971. He was stationed in Hawaii and spent much of his recreation time improving his guitar skills and vocals.
His time in the military also saw Strait joining his first band, forming a country act while still on base. He left the army in 1975 and completed his degree in agriculture.
After graduating, he traveled to Nashville repeatedly in an attempt to get a record deal but was told that his traditional style of country music had become outdated.
He eventually signed a one-song contract with MCA Records and released “Unwound”, which reached sixth place on Billboard’s Country chart. MCA offered him a full contract and Strait’s professional music career was underway.
Today, Strait has released more than 60 number-one songs on various country charts, more than any other musician in a specific genre.
He has more than 40 number-ones on Billboard’s country chart, also a record. He is also the first musician in Billboard’s history to have at least one top 10 single on one of their charts in 30 consecutive years, starting in 1981.
In the United States alone, Strait has more than 68 million record sales, making him one of the most successful country music stars of all time.
It takes many people to create a musical megastar. There is probably no individual who has been so closely tied to Strait’s success as his songwriter, Dean Dillon.
Dillon traveled to Nashville in 1973 at just 17 years old in the hope of beginning a music career. During his time in Nashville, he worked as a Hank Williams impersonator at Opryland, the now-demolished country-themed amusement park.
Six years after arriving in Nashville, Dillon landed a record deal and released six albums over the next couple of decades but it was in songwriting where he would truly establish his legacy.
Dillon started writing at the Third Coast bar and hotel in Nashville, which was well known as the hotel of choice for traveling musicians staying in the city. While writing on the front porch with fellow songwriter Frank Dycus, Dillon was approached by another writer, Blake Mevis.
Mevis asked if the pair had any songs they might want to sell to an unknown musician, George Strait, and took a few songs back to their manager. Dillon was reluctant to sell his songs to an unknown but was impressed by Strait’s musical ability.
Strait’s first album, “Strait Country”, featured six songs by Dillon, beginning a partnership that has lasted decades. The album was not a chart-topper but was well received by critics and appreciated for its willingness to evoke traditional country.
Though Dillon could never find fame and fortune as a musician, he has become a legendary songwriter. He has written for the likes of Keith Whitley and Toby Keith, in addition to more than 50 songs for Strait.
Dean Dillon was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.