Kenny Chesney: The Billboard Cover Story


Chesney will go out "wide open" next year when he returns to the road, with about "60-ish" dates, including a return to stadiums. As usual, Chesney is fully engaged in plotting every aspect of the tour, which will once again be with TMG/AEG Live through a long-term deal with the promoter.

"I've already got a 3-D rendering of what our stage show will look like on my computer right now," Chesney says, lighting up when he discusses things like working out sightlines. "I can look at it from all angles. I don't want to piece this thing together. If you go out like we do it, if we start in April or March, you can't wait until January to piece this together."

Chesney admits there are aspects of touring he didn't miss. "I didn't miss going to catering every day at 5 o'clock. I didn't miss hanging out on the bus all day wasting time, doing certain things. I don't miss [promoter] Louis Messina one bit," he says, chuckling. "But, boy, I tell you, I missed that first note every night. I missed the energy of the crowd. That's what you hope you miss, and boy, I missed it."

Given the challenges of the touring business this summer, Team Chesney may have picked the right year to give the road a rest.

"You need to be missed," Higham says. "If you're around every year, you get taken for granted."

With all of Chesney's success, having far exceeded his boyhood dreams in Luttrell, Tenn., when asked what still motivates him, he answers without hesitation. "Fear of failure,' he says. "That's another reason I pulled back. I didn't want to be the tired guy up there. I didn't want to be the guy that went through the motions. People deserve better, and I knew I was on the edge of doing that. To me, that would be failing. It would drive me crazy later on in life to know that I mailed something in."