Wednesday's noontime announcement by Country Music Hall of Famer George Strait that he would retire from the road after his 2013-14 "The Cowboy Rides Away" farewell tour hit Rocks Off harder than it should have. True, he's 60, has a ranch and grandchildren, and has earned his golden years many, many times over. But we always thought he'd be around, and the idea that next March at Reliant Stadium could be the final time he plays Houston is more than a little unsettling. That's not that far away.
However, these "farewell tour" announcements should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially in the world of country music. Rocks Off did some digging to see how some other high-profile "The Cowboy Rides Away"-style tours turned out, and if we learned one thing, it's that they take forever. Hell, I might be retired by the time King George is.
OK... probably not.
Farewell Tour: Mama Naomi Judd's 1991 announcment that she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C touched off the first big country farewell tour that we can remember, one that visited the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo that year and again in 2000 after Naomi went into remission. They came back one more time to Nutty Jerry's in August 2011, where daughter Wynonna told the crowd, "I have two teenagers at home now, so I went on tour with my mother to relax."
How Did It Take? This last one appears to have held, to the point that there is no dedicated Judds Web site, just www.wynonna.com. Naomi is now an actress and motivational speaker.
BROOKS & DUNN
Farewell Tour: "The Last Rodeo," 2010
How Did It Take? Holding so far. The duo that dominated country music in the '90s and '00s announced their "The Last Rodeo" tour in December 2009 (which included one final RodeoHouston stop), and the cows didn't come home until after a September 2010 concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Both have since released solo albums for Arista Nashville, and Dunn appears to have the upper hand because "Bleed Red" made it to No. 10 on the country charts in 2011; Brooks' "Bring It On Home" only reached No. 56 earlier this year.
Farewell Tour: "The Grand Tour," 2012-13
How Did It Take? It's never a good sign when an artist's PR company sends out a tour announcement that says "George Jones is still alive," and based on what we saw at the Arena Theatre earlier this month, he probably should have hung it up a few tours back. (Sorry, Possum.) Nevertheless, Jones is scheduled to stop through Nutty Jerry's in Winnie November 23 for the "Thank God for Texas Music" festival.
Original Farewell Tour: "Hell Freezes Over," 1994
How Did It Take? Not well. After hell froze over, it stayed frozen and the Eagles grew to enjoy their newfound status as the godfathers of contemporary country music. Eventually, they released 2007's The Long Road Out of Eden, originally a Walmart exclusive, which has now sold around 3.5 million copies. Their 2008 two-night stand at Toyota Center was interrupted by Hurricane Ike, and they headlined the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival. This weekend the Eagles are working the casino circuit in Reno and Coachella, Calif.
Farewell Tour: After announcing his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease in June 2011, Campbell embarked on a long goodbye that has already brought him to Stafford Centre in September 2011, the Arena Theatre in January of this year, and then again in July at Galveston's Grand 1894 Opera House.
How Did It Take? Still going. Campbell's Web site lists his last show (for now) as Nov. 4 in Sarasota, Fla.
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SHOW ME HOW
Farewell Tour: Reeling from marital trouble and the Chris Gaines fiasco, Brooks announced his retirement from touring and recording in 2001, apparently so burnt out that he didn't even bother with a farewell tour. According to planetgarth.com, that would make his last proper tour the gargantuan outing that spanned the globe between March 1996 and November 1998, including a five-night April 1998 stand at Compaq Center (now Lakewood Church). The final three shows were at College Station's Reed Arena.
How Did It Take? The cracks are showing. For starters, Brooks has been performing a limited residency at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas resort since 2009, a five-year exlusive engagment. Suspiciously enough, country Web site The Boot recently reported Brooks saying he would be open to going back out once his daughters are grown, and would love to take wife Trisha Yearwood along for the ride. See ya soon, Garth.