Front Line more than a little bit country


Nashville — Irving Azoff's Front Line Management has quietly acquired Dale Morris & Associates, home to country music's top touring artist in Kenny Chesney, along with Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson.

Founded by Dale Morris, who worked with Alabama until the band's retirement in 2004, Morris & Associates has been Chesney's only management home. Since 2002, Chesney has grossed about $400 million and moved more than 7 million tickets. He is in the midst of a multiyear touring deal with AEG Live and is country's top ticket seller, playing stadiums and smaller venues.

Clint Higham at Morris has overseen Chesney's day-to-day management duties since 1993, well before the singer established himself as a headliner.

"Irving is the face of the music business," Higham said, "and with our new strategic partnership it gives us a further reach for our clients. We have had the great fortune of being able to go to the moon and back with our clients, and this will ensure us that we continue to do so."

Chesney's move to Front Line comes two weeks after the defection of Tim McGraw from Front Line to Coran Capshaw's Red Light Management.

Ray Waddell is an executive director at Billboard.