Kenny Chesney Biography
Chesney was born in Knoxville, Tennessee at St. Mary's Hospital on March 26, 1968. His mother Karen, was, and still is, a hair stylist in the Knoxville area. His father, David Chesney, is a former Elementary school teacher. Chesney has one sibling, a younger sister named Jennifer Chandler. He was raised in Luttrell, Tennessee and attended Gibbs High School, where he was a receiver on the football team, and graduated in 1986. The following year, Kenny received his first guitar for Christmas, where he began teaching himself to play. He had previously attempted guitar playing at age 5, but quit because "it hurt his fingers".
Chesney studied in East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, where he joined Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity and was member of the ETSU Bluegrass Program. Chesney played tunes at local places around Johnson City like Chucky's Trading Post (a small Mexican restaurant), Quarterbacks BBQ, and Rafters. He recorded his first album in 1989 at Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia. A thousand copies were produced and Chesney sold them at his busking gigs, using the money from album sales to help buy a new guitar.
In 1990, Chesney graduated from East Tennessee State University with a degree in advertising. After graduation, he headed to Nashville, where he performed at several local clubs. After making the rounds of the music publishers in Nashville, Chesney signed to contract in 1992 with BMI and Opryland Music Group.
Chesney's first album, In My Wildest Dreams, was released on the independent Capricorn Records label in 1994. The album's lead-off singles, "The Tin Man" and "Whatever It Takes", both reached the lower regions of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. The album sold approximately 10,000 copies before Capricorn Records closed its country music division that year.
After Capricorn's closure, Chesney signed to BNA Records, which released his album All I Need to Know in 1995. The album produced three hit singles: "Fall in Love" and the title track (both of which reached Top Ten), and "Grandpa Told Me So", which peaked at #23. "The Tin Man" was also included on this album, although it was not re-released as a single at the time.
Released in 1996, Chesney's second major-label album was Me and You. Although its lead-off single peaked just outside the Top 40 on the country charts, the album's title track (which was reprised from All I Need to Know) and the single "When I Close My Eyes" (which was previously recorded by Larry Stewart on his 1993 debut album Down the Road) both peaked at #2 on the Billboard country charts. Me and You was also Chesney's first gold-certified album. A cover of Mac McAnally's 1990 single "Back Where I Come From" was also included on this album; although Chesney's version was never released as a single, it has become a staple of his concerts.
I Will Stand, Chesney's third album for BNA, was released in 1997. "She's Got It All", which served as the album's lead-off single, became Chesney's first Billboard Number One single, spending three weeks at the top of the country charts. The album's second single, "A Chance", peaked just shy of Top Ten, while its follow-up, "That's Why I'm Here", went to #2 on Billboard in 1998. ("That's Why I'm Here" reached Number One on Radio & Records, giving Chesney his third Number One overall.) Also in 1998, Chesney recorded a limited-edition single titled "Touchdown Tennessee". The single was a tribute to John Ward, a former broadcaster for the University of Tennessee Volunteers' football team; St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the John Ward Scholarship Fund received a portion of the single's sales.
1999's Everywhere We Go, Chesney's fourth album for BNA, produced two consecutive Number One singles in "How Forever Feels" and "You Had Me from Hello" (the latter inspired by a line in the movie Jerry Maguire). The album also produced two more hits: "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and "What I Need to Do", which peaked at #11 and #8 on the country charts, respectively. Everywhere We Go was also Chesney's first platinum-selling album.
By 2000, Chesney released his Greatest Hits compilation. It included four new tracks, as well as re-recordings of "Fall in Love", "The Tin Man" and "Back Where I Come From". The new version of "The Tin Man" was one of the disc's three singles, with two of the new tracks, "I Lost It" and "Don't Happen Twice", also serving as singles.
The album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems was released in 2002. Its lead-off single, "Young", peaked at #2, while the follow-up "The Good Stuff" spent seven weeks at Number One, becoming Billboard's Number One country song of the year for 2002. A year later, Chesney recorded an album of Christmas music, titled All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan; the album's title track peaked at #30 on the country charts from holiday airplay.
2004 saw the release of Chesney's album When the Sun Goes Down. Its lead-off single, "There Goes My Life", spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts; the album's title track, a duet with Uncle Kracker, was also a Number One. At the Country Music Association awards that year, When the Sun Goes Down won an award for Album of the Year.
In January 2005, Chesney released the album Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), supporting the album with his Somewhere in the Sun Tour and in November 2005. Chesney released his second album of that year, The Road and the Radio, which produced three Number One singles: "Living in Fast Forward", "Summertime", and "Beer in Mexico", as well as Top Five hits in "Who You'd Be Today" and "You Save Me".
In February 2006, Chesney was presented with a plaque commemorating his sales of 25 million albums. On May 23 of the same year, Chesney was honored at the Academy of Country Music Awards as Entertainer of the Year. In 2007 he was once again named Entertainer of the Year. On November 7, 2007 Chesney was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the third time in four years.
Chesney, along with Tim McGraw, contributed to a version of Tracy Lawrence's single "Find Out Who Your Friends Are", which can be found on Lawrence's album For the Love. The official single version, featuring only Lawrence's vocals, was released in August of 2006, but did not reach the Top 40 on the country charts until January of 2007, when For the Love was released. After the album's release, the version with McGraw and Chesney began receiving significant airplay, helping to boost the single to Number One on the country charts. The song became Lawrence's first Number One single in eleven years, as well as the second-slowest climbing Number One single in the history of the Billboard music charts.
On September 11, 2007, Kenny released the album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. The album's lead-off single, "Never Wanted Nothing More", became Chesney's twelfth Number One on the Billboard country charts. However, there was some controversy surrounding the release of this album, as Kanye West's album Graduation, as well as 50 Cent's album Curtis, were released on the same day. Kanye West and 50 Cent were in the midst of a competitive sales war, with 50 Cent claiming he'd end his solo rap career if West sold more albums than he did (remarks he later retracted as terms with his contract conflicted with the promise). Kenny Chesney, however, decided he'd give country music a place in the competition, claiming country artists were just as popular as rap artists. Chesney came in third place in number of record sales.
On the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated for the week ending September 15, 2007, Chesney's single "Don't Blink" debuted at #16, setting a new record for the highest debut on that chart since the inception of SoundScan electronic tabulation in 1990. This record was broken one week later by Garth Brooks' song "More Than a Memory", which debuted at Number One on the same chart, making it the first song ever to do so. The third single off the Just Who I Am album, "Shiftwork", a duet with George Strait went and peaked at #2 on the Billboard country chart. The 4th single, "Better as a Memory", has become his fourteenth number-one single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the chart week of June 28, 2008.
Chesney also co-wrote Rascal Flatts' 2007 single along with Djuan Edgerton, "Take Me There", which served as the lead-off single to their album Still Feels Good.
Chesney's most recent charity work includes working with the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Chesney embarked on his 2008 tour titled "The Poets and Pirates Tour" on April 26. The tour focused on stadium venues and started at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. During the introduction for his set, Kenny's boot was caught between a hydraulic lift and the stage surface for over 30 seconds, causing a severe hematoma from the ankle down, with most of the damage centering in his toes. The injury did not cause him to postpone any shows, saying "He (the doctor) told me it's going to hurt -- though nothing could hurt worse than Saturday, I don't think -- and they can give me something to deaden the pain when I get out there. I also have to have a doctor standing by should something give, but I'm going to tape it up, and I'm going to get out there."
On May 19th, 2008, just a day after the 43rd Annual ACM Awards and winning ACM Entertainer of the Year, Chesney criticized the lack of choice in the producers' making the award fan-voted. "The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus," he said. "That's the way Garth won it four times, that's the way I won it, that's the way (George) Strait won it, Reba (McEntire), Alabama all those years. That's what it's supposed to represent."
On July 24, 2008 Kenny Chesney announced that he will be releasing a new single off an upcoming album entitled Lucky Old Sun. The song is titled "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" and for the chart week of August 16, 2008, it has debuted at #22 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album was released on October 14th, 2008. "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" became a Number One hit. It was followed by a cover of Mac McAnally's 1990 single "Down the Road".
It was announced on December 2nd, 2008 that Chesney would perform at Gillette Stadium again in 2009, marking the fifth year in a row that Chesney will have played at the Foxboro, Massachusetts football field.
Chesney's tour this year will be entitled the Sun City Carnival Tour and will feature various venues both small and large to continue to keep his ticket prices down.
Kenny Chesney's new single, "Out Last Night" is the lead single from his Greatest Hits II album, released May 19 via BNA Records. It is his first greatest hits album in nine years (not counting his Super Hits album).
On May 9, 2005 Kenny Chesney married actress Renee Zellweger in a ceremony at the island of St. John. They had met in January at a tsunami relief benefit concert. On September 15, 2005, after only four months of marriage, they announced their plans for an annulment. Zellweger cited fraud as the reason in the related papers. After media scrutiny of her use of the word "fraud", she qualified the use of the term, stating it was "simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character". The annulment was finalized in late December 2005.
Chesney was dating Amy Colley, a 24 year old former Miss Tennessee USA. The two were introduced by a mutual friend, but they broke up on April 21, 2009.