Chuck Kruger has announced he is retiring from the entertainment business and looking forward to enjoying his first quiet summer in years.

That means stepping down from his volunteer work booking entertainment for the Maine Lobster Festival after 32 years and closing his entertainment booking company.

"I think my next job is to make sense of my life," he said.

He has many stories, and revisiting them allows him to reconnect with people.

"I want to share my life experiences, but I don't presume it'll be a book," Kruger said.

What he's planning will mostly be for himself.

Kruger said he had a pretty good life in the late '70s, driving around New England performing gigs in the summer and heading to the Carribean for the winter. In his 30's, however, he grew tired of the late nights, the smoky bars, and being the only one sober at last call. Eventually he had to make sure he could be home in time for his wife's alarm to go off, so he could serve as "Mr. Mom."

He hadn't really assessed his skills up to that point, but Kruger said between his work at the Samoset and getting involved with the Lobster Festival — "they sort of gave that to me."

The first band he booked for the festival was his buddy, Jonathan Edwards. Over the next 30-plus years, Kruger would book such headliners as Chubby Checker, Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black and The Outlaws among others.

One of his biggest successes was booking the Dixie Chicks in 1998, before they became famous. He had seen them in concert in Nashville and was drawn by their musical talent.

Although they had yet to be discovered, by the time the Dixie Chicks made it to Maine they were stars. Kruger said he paid $7,500 for their performance, and a few years later he offered double for their return — but by then they were making millions per show.

Among some disappointments, Kruger said, were the deaths of Ray Charles and Johnny Winter after being signed to perform.

"It's been an interesting adventure," Kruger said.

One of his favorite stories involves a pre-concert visit between Willie Nelson and then-Gov. Angus King in Nelson's "smoke-filled trailer."

Another story was of an entertainer who apparently celebrated too much before going on stage.

"I was preparing to tell the crowd that he was unable to perform," Kruger said, but once the guitar was placed in the musician's hands he gave an outstanding performance. Kruger said he was grateful he never had to handle a mass refund.

Kruger began his musical career singing in the choir at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown, N.J., at the age of 8. Having run his own production company, Entertainment Resources Inc., since 1987, music has always been a part of his life.

He got his first guitar for Christmas when he was 14, learned three chords and started writing songs.

"I've written between 300 and 400 songs — all about life experiences. I'm more on the emotional than the technical side," Kruger said in 2015.

Kruger played in coffeehouses in high school, and started serious gigging solo and with a band in college. Band names included Chuck Kruger Band, Chuck Kruger & The Fabulous Prizes and Cruzan Confuzion. He also played in Home Brew, Maxwell Baggins Band (Tim Sample), and with legendary humorist Vaughn Meader. He stopped doing public shows in 1990.

As he transitioned out of the performing side, his performer friends encouraged him to get into booking and producing because he understood the stage from all sides. Kruger said he especially enjoyed helping to produce special events for MBNA and other high-end clients, bringing national acts to local audiences.

In 2007 he decided to try his hand at public service, and ran for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives, where he served four, two-year terms.

Kruger said his life had never been about reaching for the stars, and the one regret he had was not writing what he wanted to in his songs.

Now he will be taking the time to write his story, his way.

"I've had a lot of fun and hope that continues," Kruger said, musing about the prospect of enjoying his first Maine summer in more than 30 years with his wife, Linda, and spending more time with his grandchildren, Bella, 12, and Quinten, 10.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.