With a glittering career that many would envy, George Strait is undoubtedly one of the most famous country stars in the world. His successes haven’t made him immune to setbacks, though – and what happened to him in November 2017 is a case in point. During that month, Strait had performed at a charity concert for Feherty’s Troops First Foundation at his Tapatio Springs resort. Mere days after that event, however, disaster struck.
It’s fair to say, though, that Strait is a very rich and successful man by practically anyone’s standards. Since 1981 – when the musician had his first hit with “Unwound” – he’s sold an incredible 70 million records, in fact. And that’s not even taking into account his numerous CMA awards and the Grammy for his 2008 album Troubadour. Consequently, his net worth these days is a whopping $300 million.
Plus, there’s a philanthropic side to Strait, too. The star set up The Jenifer Lynn Strait Foundation in 1986, for instance – named after his late daughter and which raises money for children’s charities. In addition, Strait also does a lot of work with veteran and military organizations.
Indeed, Strait is a former military man himself: in particular, he was in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1975. Furthermore, it was during his service that that the future singer-songwriter began to cultivate his passion for music. When Strait and the 25th Infantry Division were stationed in Hawaii, he even joined Army-sponsored band Rambling Country.
And in a 1982 interview with Weekend Journal on KXIX-TV, Strait talked about how the Army shaped his music career. “I was in the service, and I just for some reason got it in me that I could sing,” he said. “I thought that I could possibly make a career out of singing. So, I went and bought a guitar.”
Strait further explained, “I started learning songs, and I learned enough where I could get a band together. The last year I was in the service, that’s what I did for the Army… I sang country music.” But, of course, Strait remained a performer well after his time in the military. Once he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1975, for instance, he joined the group Stoney Ridge, which he renamed Ace in the Hole Band.
Yet while Ace in the Hole Band was relatively successful, Strait’s stint with the group didn’t pull in enough money for him to make a living. Instead, he got most of his income from working on his family’s cattle ranch. The connections he made in the music industry would eventually prove profitable, though. Indeed, just as Strait was considering giving up music for good, he was signed by MCA – and the rest is history.
So, seeing as how the Army got him started as a singer, it’s perhaps not at all surprising that Strait has decided to give back to military charities. One of these is Feherty’s Troops First Foundation, which supports military personnel who have been injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. And every year since 2011, Strait has held an event to raise money for them at his Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Texas.
In 2013 the country musician even sold his own boots for $130,000 at a fundraiser. In 2017, meanwhile, he said of that year’s event, “We can never repay our military veterans for their dedicated service, but we hope our partnership with the Troops First Foundation can show how much we appreciate them.”
And, indeed, the 2017 charitable golf tournament, concert and auction that Strait and his business partner Tom Cusick put on earned a lot of money for the foundation. Specifically, more than $1.5 million in funds was raised – a record-breaking amount for the annual event. Unfortunately, though, just a week after the proceedings had ended, disaster struck.
On November 4, at about 7:00 p.m., firefighters were called to the Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, as a fire had begun in an attic and had subsequently spread to the rest of the clubhouse. And thanks to the efforts of the emergency service, 20 people were evacuated from the building with no injuries. Sadly, however, the clubhouse itself couldn’t be salvaged.
The staff at Tapatio Springs would release a statement on the incident the next day on Facebook. “We are so sorry to report that a fire started in the clubhouse this evening, and the building is a total loss,” it read. “We are tremendously grateful for our staff, guests, members and the fire departments that responded quickly, cleared the building to ensure everyone’s safety and have provided so much to Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort.”
And that news may have come as a blow to Strait, who had originally bought the property along with Tom Cusick in 2011. By the end of that year, in fact, they had improved multiple areas of the resort, with the golf shop, the golf course and the 112 guest rooms all having undergone renovation.
In addition, it was decided that the property should close for a time after the fire. “Given the clubhouse serves so many different purposes essential to our member and guest experiences, Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort and The Club is closed for the foreseeable future,” read another Facebook statement on the official page for the resort.
Strait himself, however, hasn’t commented on the situation as yet, and it’s possible that he may never do so. After all, the musician is famously interview shy, dating back to the time when he lost his daughter. “I just didn’t feel like talking about [my daughter’s death], so I quit [interviews]… It just kind of turned out the way it did. It wasn’t an intentional thing,” he told The New Yorker in August 2017.
Other people, though, have talked about how upsetting the fire was for them. Hunter Neal and Tyree Pasini, for instance, told News 4 San Antonio that they had booked the clubhouse for their wedding and so were upset to have had their dreams go up in smoke. Luckily, though, the two George Strait fans were later able to find a different venue for their big day.
And in the aftermath of the fire, many patrons of the resort spoke about how it had affected them, too. “It was devastating to see this clubhouse that we have enjoyed for all these many years just burn to the ground,” Esther McNutt explained to the San Antonio Express-News after the incident.
Meanwhile, Boerne Kendall County Economic Development Corporation board member Tommy Mathews told the newspaper, “Everyone is saddened by the loss of that facility, because it’s been here for generations and is considered an iconic part of our community.” Plans are under way, though, to rebuild Tapatio Springs and make it even better than before.
And the property was insured, so hopefully restoration shouldn’t be too much of a costly affair. “We plan to move as quickly as possible to clear the scene of debris,” Northview Hotels and Resorts general manager Caleb DuBose told the San Antonio Express-News. “Once we get the green light, we’ll do the rebuild. We’re going to have a completely new design.”
Perhaps, then, there’s still some good news to be had from the tragedy. After all, if the rebuilding is completed quickly, Strait may not even need an alternative location for his 2018 fundraiser. Not only that, but it may take place in an even more splendid-looking resort.