They are two of the biggest stars in country music, a sexy family man who is half of a country power couple and his shorter, buffed single buddy who have together sold more than 70 million albums, charted nearly 100 top 20 songs and filled countless stadiums with their fans.
Together, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney are "brothers of the sun" and the stars will bring their tour of the same name to Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday.
The tour isn't just an opportunity for thousands of ladies to swoon like schoolgirls at the feet of the hunky singer/songwriters, it's also a chance for Chesney and McGraw to consolidate their fan bases, make truckloads of money and spend the summer hanging out together. It brings their long roads to superstardom full circle as Chesney opened for McGraw back in 2001.
"It's authentic," Chesney, 44, said to the Chicago Tribune earlier this month. "It's not just something put together by two record labels. Tim and I have been friends for a long time, there is a real chemistry."
McGraw, 46, agreed. "Kenny is like a little brother," he said in the same interview. "Throughout our 20-year friendship, we've learned a lot from each other and continue to do that."
The pair's friendship began in the early 1990s when the then struggling artists lived near each other in Nashville. McGraw was the first to hit the charts in 1992 with Welcome to the Club and Chesney had his first charting single in 1994 with Whatever It Takes.
"We remember, over 20 years ago, living in apartment complexes that were pretty close to each other and hanging out at each other's apartments on the patio, playing music and singing songs," McGraw said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.
"And we were laughing that whose apartment we were hanging out at depended on who paid the electric bill that month, who had air conditioning. And [we were] dreaming about careers and dreaming about what we wanted and not knowing if we'd get the chance," McGraw said.
"It was 1991. I'd just graduated from college and moved to Nashville," Chesney told the Kansas City Star in June. "He had a record deal, but no singles yet. It was a very exciting time but very uncertain. We didn't know if anyone would want to listen to our music.
"Back then I just wanted a song on the radio. I wanted to get a bus, tour the country and see the places my heroes had played. We didn't dream big back then. I know I didn't. Not this big."
McGraw, a Delhi, La., native saw his star began ascending first, despite his debut album not hitting any charts. His second effort, Not a Moment Too Soon, shot to the top spot on both the country and mainstream charts (his first of 13 No. 1 albums including compilations) and eventually sold more than 6 million copies.
Meanwhile, Chesney was building his audience the old-fashioned way, playing bars, clubs and any fair that would have him while releasing increasingly popular singles, including his first top 10 country hit, the breezy Fall in Love.
By 1999, McGraw was a bona fide star with a wife, Faith Hill, whom he married in 1996 and who was also a bona fide country star. He also had four No. 1 albums under his belt buckle while Chesney got a choice gig opening for respected and beloved traditionalist George Strait in 1999 and 2000.
A year later, Chesney toured as the opener for his buddy McGraw and shortly after that his career trajectory began to mirror McGraw's.
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