Kenny Chesney Says His Life Changed The Moment He Stopped Trying To Be The “Newer Version Of George Strait”

Kenny Chesney country music
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I mean, I can’t really fault Kenny Chesney too much for wanting to be like George Strait.

I think most young country artists, male or female, would be more than happy with a career that’s even a fraction as successful and legendary as The King’s.

But, then again, no one else will ever be George Strait, so creating a career exactly like that is pretty close to impossible.

And during an interview with Country Countdown USA’s Lon Helton at CRS (Country Radio Seminar) this week, Kenny talked about how when he first got started in the business, he was trying to be too much like George and losing his unique identity in the process:

“I was a lot like a lot of artists, honestly. I was trying to be the newer version of George Strait.

I think Garth would tell you the same thing, he loved George. That was the bar. I wore a belt buckle. I was trying to be that.”

He continued, saying he started to notice that he wasn’t the only one trying to emulate The King, and obviously that’s a great standard to be reaching for, but ultimately, he got lost in a sea of others trying to make it just like he was:

“This isn’t a slam toward anybody, but I realized there were acts out there that felt the same way I did. We were all trying to reach for Strait.

I didn’t have as good of a song as Tracy Lawrence had, with ‘Time Marches On.’ I just felt I wasn’t truly being authentic as an artist during that time.

There was a phase, after Garth hit, where everybody wore the same shirt.”

It all clicked for him when he finally started being himself and not George Strait, adding that he “started really writing songs” after that:

“But the moment I stopped trying to be George Strait, that was the moment my life changed. I started really writing songs.

And my life in the Virgin Islands, I spent a lot of time writing out there.”

He also talked about one of his biggest hits “Don’t Blink,” and how he actually hated that they pushed it as a single at the time:

“When we released that song… I hated it. I felt like it just touched every button you could possibly touch to get somebody to like a song and I hated it.

We were at ABC Radio Networks in Dallas, and we were on the plane there, and I was in Joe’s ear the who two-hour ride about how much I hated this single choice: ‘It’s never gonna work, this is going to be the end of everything.

I’ve worked really hard to be here and you’re gonna cut my legs off with ‘Don’t Blink.’ I did my interviews and we are coming down the escalators and the lady at the front desk tells me, ‘I just love ‘Don’t Blink’!’

I looked at Galante and said, ‘You told her to say that.'”

The song was included on his 2007 Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates album, and ended up being a four-week #1 hit on the Billboard country airplay chart.

I mean, 16 years later and it’s just as tieless as ever…

“Don’t Blink”

Kenny Chesney Announces 2023 ‘I Go Back Tour’

Looking back, it’s impressive to see what Kenny Chesney has done over the past 35 years.

We’re talking about 31 number one hits, and the guy continues to sell out stadiums in thanks to his massive fanbase, dubbed “No Shoes Nation.”

With that being said, the guy is hitting the road once again, as he just announced his 2023 I Go Back Tour.

The name of the tour is based off his 2004 smash hit “I Go Back,” the song about reminiscing on the good times of growing up in small town America, and he wants to bring that feeling to his fans for the 2023 tour, and play shows at the venues that he and his band played early on in his career.

He shared in a statement:

“When a year is as hot and alive as 2022 was, you don’t want to try to recapture that magic. Or maybe it’s me. I still have the sounds of diesel engines and No Shoes Nation in my head – and that made me ask, ‘What else could I do? What would be something that would put me every bit as much in the music and give No Shoes Nation another reason to believe?

How can we reach those people who might not come to stadium shows, who live a little off the obvious path, but who love this music every bit as much…
And that’s when it hit me: ‘I Go Back.’ That song is about holding all those things that shaped you very close, recognizing how special they are – and keeping them alive any way you can.

So, I decided that rather than just go repeat what we did, I wanted to take this band and these songs to a lot of the cities we played on our way up! Let’s call the tour I Go Back – and do just that.”

He recalled the OG days:

“I remember coming up, the craziness of so many of those dates. Markets where people were using chain-cutters to get onto the lawn because we were so sold out in the Carolinas… and that’s a kind of energy that should never be left behind.

For all those fans – based on how good last year felt – I want to bring what was coming off that stage to you, where you are, so we can all have that kind of experience together!

These songs time stamp people’s lives. They put people in their lives, but they also serve as the touchstone for memories in the making.

For people to come out and either live these songs again, or hear them for the first time? Who knows what will happen? But I know whether it’s ‘American Kids,’ ‘Get Along’ or ‘You And Tequila,’ every single person knows exactly what we’re singing about and singing along to together.”

The tour kicks off at State College, PA’s Bryce Jordan Center on March 25th, and rounds out July 22nd in Des Moines, Iowa at the Hy-Vee Indy Race.

Check it out and see if he’s coming to a city near you:

March 25       State College, PA                          Bryce Jordan Center
March 30       Wichita, KS                                  INTRUST Bank Arena
April 1           Oklahoma City, OK                     Paycom Center
April 6           Uncasville, CT                             Mohegan Sun Arena
April 8           Wilkes-Barre Township, PA         Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
April 12         Birmingham, AL                          Legacy Arena at the BJCC
April 14         Jacksonville, FL                           Daily’s Place Amphitheater
April 16         Ft. Lauderdale, FL                       Tortuga*
April 25         Lexington, KY                             Rupp Arena
April 27         Greenville, SC                             Bon Secours Wellness Arena
April 29         Greensboro, NC                           Greensboro Coliseum
May 4            Moline, IL                                    Vibrant Arena at The Mark
May 6            Grand Rapids, MI                        Van Andel Arena
May 9            Grand Forks, ND                         The Alerus Center
May 11          Sioux Falls, SD                            Denny Sanford Premier Center
May 13          Lincoln, NE                                 Pinnacle Bank Arena
May 18          Fort Wayne, IN                            Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
May 20          Evansville, IN                              Ford Center
May 25          Charleston, SC                             Credit One Stadium
May 27          Orange Beach, AL                       The Wharf
July 22           Des Moines, IA                            Hy-Vee Indy Race*

*previously announced

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How Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw Once Stole A Police Horse

We’ve all been there.

You go out on the town with the boys one night, doing a little bar hopping. You kick things off with a beer or two at the first bar, and then one of your buddies decides to order a round of shots, and it ‘s all downhill from there.

Things start to get a little hazy as you make your way to the next bar, the night rolls on, and next thing you know…

You’re sitting in the back of a cop car, or you’re pleading with a cop to not take your buddy to jail.

It happens to the best of us… and that includes even some huge celebrities.

Tim and Kenny Horsing Around

Perhaps one of the wildest country music stories of the modern era, 22 years ago today, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw were playing a show together in Buffalo, New York.

It all went down at the George Strait Country Music Festival held at Bills Stadium formerly known as Ralph Wilson Stadium.

After the show wrapped, a presumably drunk Chesney asked the daughter of a police officer if he could hop on one of the Mounted Reserve deputy’s horses, and of course, she gave him the all clear.

Police officers who didn’t realize what was happening asked him to get off, but apparently, Chesney had some selective hearing that night. Next thing you know, Kenny takes off on the horse like he’s Billy the Kid.

The cops attempted to corral him, and pull him off the horse, but his good buddy Tim took one for the team and put a police officer in a headlock.

Needless to say, the officer didn’t take to kindly to a Tim McGraw chokehold and a fight broke out.

The Police Tell Their Side

Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan provided more info to CMT at the time:

“When the deputy went to remove Chesney from the horse another deputy was going to assist him. McGraw came and jumped the second deputy from behind, wrapped one arm around his neck and was choking him.

Now I’m not suggesting he was trying to really choke him. But he had him with his arm around his neck, and he was holding on.

Then that deputy needed assistance to get McGraw off. When the third deputy went to assist the one that McGraw had a choke-hold on, that’s when manager Mark Russo jumped in.

So there was a little scuffle that ensued, and both the deputies sustained very minor injuries. But because they had sustained the injuries, the law in New York State says assaulting a police officer is a felony, regardless of the extent of the injuries… from a minor bruise to lacerations and broken bones.”

Getting Arrested

Timmy and Kenny found their way into some handcuffs.

“Following the incident the people involved were taken back to a command post we set up at a local fire hall when the stadium is in operation. From there, we took them maybe 10 or 15 miles to a town judge for an arraignment.

McGraw and Russo were arraigned before the local magistrate and released on bail pending further court appearance.

Chesney was issued an appearance ticket and released on the scene.”

In the end, they were acquitted, and so concludes one of the greatest stories in country music history.

Could you imagine witnessing this? Two of the biggest faces in country music at the time, stealing a police horse with the other street fighting the police? I mean, it sounds like some rockstar shit to me.

Chesney was wrangled by some backup, and needless to say, they both ended up cuffed in the back of a police cruiser that night.

Kenny was left with a disorderly conduct charge on $100 bail, and Tim with second-degree assault, obstructing governmental administration, menacing, and resisting arrest. He was released on a steep $2,500 bail.

Wild times man, wild times.

I mean, whatever makes you feel like a rockstar… am I right?

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock