On This Day: George Strait Releases First No. 1 Hit, ‘Fool Hearted Memory,’ in 1982

by Jim Casey

George Strait has scored a remarkable 44 No. 1 hits across the Billboard country charts during his Hall of Fame career. But the line “strait” to the top started with “Fool Hearted Memory,” which was released on May 27, 1982.

George found success on the charts with the release of his 1981 debut album, Strait Country. The album’s lead single, “Unwound,” peaked at No. 6, while “Down and Out” reached No. 16 and “If You’re Thinking You Want a Stranger (There’s One Coming Home)” hit No. 3.

Nonetheless, George Strait was still not a household name. But a horrible movie and a great song were about to change all that.

George Strait to the Top

Back in 1981, songwriters Byron Hill and Blake Mevis (also George’s producer on Strait Country) set out to write a song for a U.S. vs. Russia spy movie called The Solider.

“I had written a song for a movie called The Exterminator,” said Byron Hill to Country Weekly magazine in 2002. “The same company came to my publisher and wanted a song for The Soldier. But there was more to it. The studio wanted a major-label artist to record the song and perform it in the movie. And they would only commit to the song if it was released as a single.”

Once Hill and Mevis penned the tune, Mevis made a work tape of the song, “Fool Hearted Memory.” The songwriters pitched it to George and the movie company. Everybody was onboard, including George’s MCA label.

George recorded “Fool Hearted Memory” in September 1981, and he released it to country radio on May 27, 1982. It served as the lead single from his sophomore album, Strait From the Heart, which was released on June 3, 1982. The single topped the charts on Aug. 28, 1982, to become the first of many No. 1 hits for the King of Country.

As for The Soldier? Well, it was released on June 15, 1982. But it’s pretty awful. However, George appeared in the film to perform “Fool Hearted Memory” in a honky-tonk that featured a mud wrestling/mechanical bull/fight scene.

Of course, Blake Mevis went on to produce a number of hits for George, including “Marina Del Ray” and “Amarillo By Morning.” On the other hand, Byron Hill went on to have a very successful songwriting career, including penning “Born Country” for Alabama and “High Tech Redneck” for George Jones,