Our George Strait Cover

By Comments

Earlier this month, we revealed that George Strait, the King of Country, would grace our June cover. I won’t torture you with any fanfare; here it is: 

It’s a beaut, ain’t it? And what you’re seeing is the cover that will go out to subscribers (and the people who order a copy of the magazine here). If you buy it on the newsstands (available May 22), we adorned it with a little cover type:

The cover story, penned by senior editor John Spong, is a masterful companion to this stunning image (read an excerpt here). But almost equally enjoyable is the tale of how the cover was made. It's no secret to the media that George Strait is an elusive subject. It's not because he's a diva. In fact, it's the exact opposite—aside from performing, he's just not one for the limelight. But this was George's "Last Ride," and, as John told me when I asked him what it was like to write this story, "We knew we had to do this story as big as possible. This is George Strait's farewell tour, and there's no chance we could do it too big." Damn straight, so to speak.  

Now for those of you following along at home for the last 41 years, you may remember that George has appeared on Texas Monthly's cover twice before—October 1988 and September 1993. But our creative director, T.J. Tucker, didn't "want this to look like any George Strait cover anyone has ever seen before." At this point, it's probably worth noting that T.J., a native of Baird, a small ranching town in that area of Texas we call "God's Country," is a HUGE Strait fan. Loving George is part of the DNA of being Texan, but growing up country in Texas means T.J.'s Strait DNA is just a little purer than most. So of course he wanted to do right by George and capture the image that would cement George's legacy as an icon of Texas music. 

To that end, T.J. and John attended George's farewell show in Kansas City, sort of to scout the experience for photography for the story, but mostly because they're two big, geeked-out fans. It was toward the end of the night that T.J. saw it—the perfect shot. Soon after the show, he wrote an email to George's people, pleading his case to memorialize that moment. 

We’d like permission and access to photograph George as he sings his final song and all of the goodbyes afterward. It was in that small window that I was moved by his clear love and respect for the fans, and his mannerisms were very revealing. This is where I noticed the hand-to-heart gesture which I think is really visually powerful. …My request is a bended-knee plea to have our own photographer photograph George. Picture George, hand to heart, with a contemplating smile, looking slightly off to the distance or down. The very thing that grabbed me when I saw him do it in KC.

George read the email. He agreed. And God bless him for that. 

(Cover photograph by Joe Pugliese.)

Related Content

  • shane

    Yeah, but no mention of the photographer?

    • Andrea Valdez

      Huge oversight on my part. The photographer’s name is Joe Pugliese.

      • http://legalbooksmarts.wordpress.com Michael Lindenberger

        Very nice but, really, you should amend the text to include a word about the photographer. I mean all this gushing over the design director but someone did actually shoot the shot.

        • waterengineer

          Totally agree. As a photographer, it is amazing how often we are forgotten. Oh, and superb effort by Joe Pugliese with the almost-Rembrant-lighting, under the cowboy hat. Hard to do, as is his ability to garner some of Mr. Strait’s personality.

      • liz

        Has anyone thought to sell this picture to the public for people’s music rooms, basements, etc.?

  • C.d. Gibson

    George Strait is a great American. He salutes his fans with his hand over his heart while our first lady refuses to salute our flag the same way.

    • SBF

      Please tell me you aren’t still believing those doctored photos of the President and First Lady?

      • C.d. Gibson

        You mean to tell me that LIVE TV managed to doctor the “lovely” couple before the spot aired????? OMG they HAVE come a long way haven’t they? Jesus, SBF, you are part of the problem in our country.

      • Elizabeth


  • Cory

    Who was the photographer?

  • Joyce Morris

    That magnificent pose captures and expresses what there are not enough words to describe….his love for his fans who have loved him back. This Georgia girl does and always will love George Strait. May God continue to Bless him and his family.

  • RJ

    God Bless George…I will never forget my first love in high school..my first two step dance with him was to “You Look So Good In Love”. i hear that song now and it brings a smile to my face and a little hitch to my heart. Thank you Mr Strait for all the wonderful memories and you Sir are truly a Texas Treasure…humble, talented, loved by many and respected by all……

    • KBB

      Please tell me you weren’t two-stepping to a waltz. 😉

  • jmw_123

    I like the pose, but hate that you did it in black and white. Texas bluebonnet blue behind him would have been striking.

    • Elizabeth

      Yes, bluebonnet blue behind him would’ve been nice too but I personally love the black and white! Very powerful. Well done, Texas Monthly and Joe Pugliese!

      • Jacksaid

        Very powerful, indeed!!

    • jeftex

      No this is a composite simple photo of this man last night on stage. As he has been for the past 40 years. On stage but yet always in Texas where most people know him. Black and white in color by himself. Nah, this is good. One of the very last gentlemen on this earth.

    • Elizabeth

      I loved the black & white. I guess it’s a matter of taste.

  • alex montoya

    Ive only been to one George Strait concert, in ABQ, NM back in the early 90’s. Loved the entertainment, songs, crowd, etc…it was an extravaganza!!! God bless you George!!! Wish you could have come back to the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, AZ one more time!!!

  • oldag22


  • Jacksaid

    “This is where the cowboy ride’s away”. There has never been a bad , George Strait Song.
    NEVER.!!! A perfect photo for his “farewell party”.. I love George Straight.
    Have been a fan from the first song I ever heard him sing. He is such a gentleman,
    and appreciate’s his fans. I hope that we will hear about him jamming at special
    occasions in Texas for a long, long time….

  • Lon Pirkl

    At the bottom of the article it gives the name of the photographer. I’m interested in the picture of George Strait not who snapped the shutter. He has been “real country” for ever and he always will be, in my mind.

  • Maria

    Between George and Willie – nothing better – oops – meant magazine covers too!

  • Susan Lee Mccaffity

    This is true George Strait. I’m a native born Texan. God bless you George

  • D Martin

    I was going to order, but the issue shown on the order form shows a totally different picture, and there’s no mention of this “special issue” picture… What will we be getting?

    • Elizabeth

      Frankly, you don’t get much. The cover photo is great. And there’s literally two articles (one on long and one short) about George Strait. Otherwise, it’s just a high-gloss magazine about yuppie Texans. This was a disappointment to me. I thought it was going to be a “George Strait” Special Issue. It wasn’t.

  • Carolyn Powers Lee

    I absolutely love this man! His concerts are family friendly…yes you can take small children and feel comfortable knowing it is a family show! I only wish I could have met him in person. What an honor to meet such a great American….best of luck George in your retirement! I’ll be catching you “Somewhere Down in Texas”…:)

  • Dolores Cruz

    What an amazing picture of King George, he still has it after all these years. Good luck to you in your future endeavors, I have seen you in concert many times, please don’t stay away to long, you will truely be missed.

  • Britt Hammond

    He is an artist who you never here him involved in remarks on policits, women-fan issues nor talking smack about another person be it the President, Gov or another artist. What you see-hear is what you receive. Met him once and he was all that and a gentlemen. A good man!-A great husdand and father and a proud granddad. Good for you George!

  • Jeane Linthicum

    Wish I had “a penny” for each step of the many times I two-stepped to this great singer. Don’t think there is a single bad song ever sung by him.

  • Paula Leeman Coffey

    Will these be restocked with the top picture? I tried to order one, and it said out of stock. I like it a lot better than the one with the cover type.

  • Colleen Cecil

    Are they really all sold out already?

  • Rochelle

    What day does it come out on new stands?

    • Elizabeth

      Other than the nice cover photo, it’s hardly worth it. There’s two articles within a large magazine about George Strait….that’s it.

  • Andrea Dixon Dellinger

    I am a Sr. Dir at the Military Warriors Support Foundation. George Strait, in partnership with our foundation has honored a combat wounded hero at each one of the stops during the last two years, Cowboy Rides Away concert series. Would it be possible for us connect with someone at TM about acquiring this specific issue. It would be incredibly special to those that have had the honor of being honored by the King himself on stage.

  • Kali Smith

    Dear Editors,

    I came home to find my much awaited and HIGHLY anticipated Texas Monthly magazine with the subscriber edition cover of George Strait had arrived. The condition of this beloved magazine is indescribable and heartbreaking. The cover is barely intact, ripped around the binding and across the cover. The fact that the United States Postal Service treats their customers both on the sending and receiving end to this lackadaisical and absentminded efforts to deliver the mail is maddening. First Texas Monthly sends so many of their issues in plastic wrap when trying to get you to renew your subscription and yet an issue they fully expect to be a high grossing seller , printed in subscriber and store shelf covers, comes through the mail with no protection is disrespectful to your loyal readership. And USPS your mishandling of your product gives the public more reason to use your service even less. This is not the time to go into the countless times my mail is misdelivered or undelivered. Get your acts together and I want another copy that is intact.

  • Elizabeth

    I got my pre-order today. The cover photo is great and the two articles contained within were interesting. But I have to say that I was surprised and pretty disappointed that that’s all there was. I was under the impression that it was a special “George Strait Issue”. It’s definitely not. It’s a high-gloss Texas magazine that happened to have two articles about George and a fine cover photo. Oh well, at least I got a nice cover photo to save.

  • deanna

    i was never able to find a magazine of George. Is there any way i can get one or two :)