04/27/2008 AT 9:00 AM ET
Kenny Chesney stuck to the old adage that the show must go on – despite a bone-crushing incident in front of the crowd during his sold-out performance Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.
As he was making his entrance before 44,424 members of the audience at Williams-Brice Stadium, the country star, 40, apparently got his right foot stuck in the lifting device of an elevator hoisting him into the middle of the arena, Country Music Television News reports.
As the closing act – following such other top names as LeAnn Rimes, Gary Allan, Luke Bryan and Brooks & Dunn – Chesney made his entrance as the band played “Live Those Songs.”
But he was soon wincing in obvious pain, noted Columbia’s The State newspaper, and he needed about 30 seconds to pry himself free.
The band kept playing until Chesney, his hand holding his knee, began his opening number. According to one concertgoer, he told the crowd that he had never actually performed a show with a broken foot and appreciated their patience.
The State observed that he hobbled through and grimaced during “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.”
Immediately after the concert, a team physician from the University of South Carolina attended to Chesney, whose boot was cut off and his knee treated, to minimize damage. The full extent of his injury is not known.
In a statement issued after the show, which was part of his part of his “Poets and Pirates” tour, Chesney said, “I took one look at those fans, and there was no way I wasn’t going on. Sometimes the energy and the adrenalin pull you through. They had come to rock, and there was no way I was sending them home with anything less than the best of what me and my guys came to do – put it all out there and give them back at least as good as they gave us.”
Crediting the local fans for his strength, Chesney concluded with, “Honestly, through the pain, through all of it, Columbia, S.C., totally got me through.”
Reporting by MOIRA BAILEY and ANDREA BILLUPS