By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - "King of Country" George Strait announced his final tour on Wednesday, but said he wasn't retiring and would go on making records for as long as he could.
"I've decided I'm not going to tour anymore after these next two years," Strait, 60, told a news conference at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame.
"Don't think I'm retiring because I'm not. I'm still going to make records as long as the label will let me. I'm going to write," the "Easy Come, Easy Go" singer said.
He added that he might do one-off performances and special events in the future, but said that "as far as a structured tour goes, after the last date in 2014 that will be it for the touring."
The "Cowboy Rides Away" tour will kick off on January 18 in Lubbock, in the singer's home state of Texas. It ends its first leg in Strait's hometown of San Antonio, Texas on June 1. Country singer Martina McBride will join Strait on the 2013 leg of his tour. Dates for 2014 have not yet been announced.
Strait has notched up 59 number one country singles, including "Unwound," "I Saw God Today," and "How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls," and sales of more than 65 million albums in his 30-year career.
But he said he always had in the back of his mind that when he turned 60 - as he did in May - it might be time to start thinking about coming off the road.
"I didn't want to book a tour and nobody came. It was important to me to pick that time (to quit touring) rather than go that long when something like that started happening," he said on Wednesday.
Strait also said he could change his mind down the line. "I believe I made the right decision but only time will tell. In 2016 I might say 'what a dummy!' And if that's the case maybe I'll reconsider."
Strait said he picked the cities on the "Cowboy Rides Away" tour because they are some of the favorite places he has played over the years and he wanted "just to go and be able to say thanks".
The country singer said he will be back in Nashville in October to begin recording his next album, noting that this is the longest period of time that he has gone without recording a new project. His last release was "Here for a Good Time" in 2011.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Andrew Hay)