OFFSTAGE: George Strait Credits Army for Early Gigs

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

George Strait joined the Army in 1972 and has no regrets. Quite the opposite, actually. He told Billboard magazine that everything about the Army became stepping stones for him.

"I wouldn't trade those days for anything, even though they were tough at times," he said. "The Army gave me a job and structure in my life that I really needed at the time."

A job and structure AND a band. When he was stationed in Hawaii, Strait said he auditioned for a band called the Country Kings and played one gig with them. "They thought I wasn't country enough and let me go. That's really funny now, but it wasn't at the time," he said.

After that, he took another job fronting the band Rambling Country, which was his Army gig until he left to go to college. But it was that first gig with the Country Kings that showed Strait he was ready for a career in music.

"I knew after that night that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. That's how I was going to make my living. That was my dream, and that was what I worked toward from that night on. Country music was on my mind from the time I got up in the morning until I went to bed at night," Strait said. "Nobody wanted it more than me."

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