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George Strait Was Pitched ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ … and Passed on It!

George Strait passed on Tennessee Whiskey
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Throughout the years, country music fans have heard the song “Tennessee Whiskey” sung by David Allan Coe, George Jones and, most recently, Chris Stapleton — and they missed out on hearing George Strait sing it. In a recent interview, the King of Country Music confessed that when he had the chance to add his name to that list of “Tennessee Whiskey” singers, he passed.

During a Facebook Live chat on Saturday (Feb. 18), hosted by Kacey Musgraves, Strait admitted that one of the song’s writers, Dean Dillon, pitched “Tennessee Whiskey” to him in the mid-1980s, “and, I just didn’t … I didn’t… I missed it.”

Written by Dillon and Linda Hargrove, “Tennessee Whiskey” was first recorded by Coe for his 1981 album of the same name; his version peaked on the country charts at No. 77. In 1983, Jones released his version of “Tennessee Whiskey” as the third single from his Shine On album, and hit No. 2 with the tune that November. These days, the song is well-known to country fans thanks to Stapleton and Justin Timberlake’s career-making performance of it (and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away”) at the 2015 CMA Awards.

Following Stapleton and Timberlake’s performance of “Tennessee Whiskey” at the 2015 CMA Awards, Stapleton’s rendition of the song — which appears on his debut album, Traveller — hit No. 1 on the country charts; it was certified platinum in May of 2016 and is nominated for Song of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards.

Strait and Musgraves’ Facebook Live Q&A took place before one of his Las Vegas residency shows. Strait began his string of dates at T-Mobile Arena in Sin City in April of 2016, and currently has shows scheduled into December of this year. He officially retired from touring in 2014.

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