It’s been five months since Eddie Montgomery’s best friend and duo partner, Troy Gentry, was killed unexpectedly in a tragic helicopter crash in Medford, N.J. The Kentucky native is making the choice to move ahead while holding up as well as could be expected.
“I’m doing alright,” Eddie tells One Country. “September 8th, man, was a hell of a day. It was a horrific accident. We’ve been together for almost 35 years. We’d known each other longer than we’d known our wives. That’s something, you know, because Nashville didn’t put this duo together. We did. We were friends and brothers. I’ve just been taking it day by day. Of course, the new CD, we just had gotten done with it two days before that.”
The new CD is the recently released “Here’s To You,” the duo’s ninth studio album and first new music in three years, which contains the lead single, “Better Man.” “Troy had done his last vocal two days before [the crash]. We were finished, all except for the mixing,” Eddie explained. “After that, I was like, I don’t know if I can go on or not because I’m so used to looking to my left and him being there.”
Troy Gentry’s life was cut short when a helicopter he was traveling in crashed at Flying W Airport in Medford, N.J. Gentry’s helicopter had reported “mechanical issues” and was awaiting aid from emergency responders before ultimately crashing and killing the star and the pilot.
After much soul-searching, consideration and consulting the duo’s band, whom they had called family for over 20 years, Eddie came to the gut-wrenching decision to go on with the release of the album and a solo tour under the Montgomery Gentry name.
“After thinking long and hard about it, and sleepless nights on it and talking to all our guys, our other family—our band members which are actually family because we’ve all been together 20 or 25 years—we were like, ‘Well, T-Roy would want us to keep rocking, and so that’s what we’re going to do,” Eddie shared. “We’re going to release the album, and we’re going to go do what he wants us to do.
“The thing about it is me and T-Roy had talked about this a long time ago,” he continued. “You know how brothers are—we sat down— I’ll never forget it. We had a few drinks and we were talking about it, because to be honest with you, I thought it was going to be me going first. I was always living on the wild side. We told each other, ‘Hey, man, if anything ever happens to either one of us we’re going to keep Montgomery Gentry going strong.”
With that in mind, Eddie released Montgomery Gentry’s lead single, “Better Man.” Troy takes lead on vocals for the song that talks about a man working hard to become a better man for his wife and family—something Troy was living up to himself. But “Better Man” wasn’t necessarily the first song the duo was planning to release, the choice for the lead single was “up in the air.”
“There were a couple others that we were looking at, but there was just something that told us this needs to be it. It was so funny because Troy felt really strong about that song. In the past when we recorded albums, a lot of times I’d hear a song and I’d be going, ‘You know what? That’s a [Montgomery Gentry] song, but Troy needs to sing it. Not me.’ That’s what’s so weird about this one, it was the first time [Troy] came to me and he was like, ‘Man, I really want to sing this song.’ I’m like, ‘Sure, brother. No problem.’ He really loved it,” Eddie adds. “It’s so weird how everything just happens. Maybe it’s me, I don’t know, but it seems like this CD— it’s the best I’ve ever heard him sing. He just flat sang his ass off on everything.”
Here’s To You has a little something for everyone contained in the 12 tracks—From the working class favorite “Needing A Beer,” the rowdy representation in “Drink Along Song,” and the patriotic nod in “That’s The Thing About America” to the dirt road anthem of “Get Down South,” and the love-inspired “All Hell Broke Loose.”
“I’m going to be honest with you, I think to me it reminds me of Tattoos & Scars [Montgomery Gentry’s 1999 debut album].” It reminds me of that, because we had so much fun cutting Tattoos & Scars,” Eddie recalled. “It’s just like this one, we had so much fun in the studio cutting it and finding the songs. I don’t know how many songs we went through, 3,000 or 4,000. We just kept taking our time and kept doing it.”
While 2018 was set to be a year of celebration, marking the duo’s 20th Anniversary together, it will be the first time Eddie hits the road for the Here’s To You Tour without his friend by his side.
“I’m like, man, how can I go out there and try to be T-Roy or sing like T-Roy? That just isn’t going to happen,” said Eddie. “It was me and him, it was our brotherhood. I know I want to go on, all our friends out there want us to go on. The best thing to do is just bring our family band into it—all our guys that have been there with us all these years. I think what I’ll do is, especially in honoring T-Roy, I might start out a verse and let another band member come up and sing. We’ll just do it that way and play the hits, and let all our friends out there decide.”
As Eddie kicked off the tour on January 19 there are a few things he wants everyone to know about his brother, best friend, and partner. “I’m sure they know, but just what a great father and a great friend and brother. He was the dude, if he saw somebody standing over there that needed money, he’d go over there and help them. He helped a lot of people and nobody even knows about it.”
Montgomery Gentry, Here’s to You Track Listing:
1) “Shotgun Wedding” – Philip Eugene O’Donnell, Eddie Montgomery, Gary Hannan
2) “Better Me” – Jamie Moore, Josh Hoge, Randy Montana
3) “Needing A Beer” – Bobby Pinson, Aaron Raitiere
4) “What’cha Say We Don’t” – Jeffrey Steele, Brandon Hood, Lee Miller
5) “Crazies Welcome” – Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Lance Miller, Jessi Alexander
6) “Get Down South” – John Wiggins, Bob Moffat, Clint Moffat, Troy Johnson
7) “Drive On Home” – Dave Turnbull, Fred Wilhelm, Craig Campbell
8) “Feet Back On The Ground” – Neil Thrasher, Casey Beathard, Tony Martin
9) “Drink Along Song” – Philip Eugene O’Donnell, Buddy Owens, Jenee Flenor, Wade Kirby
10) “King of the World” – Troy Jones
11) “That’s The Thing About America” – Craig Wiseman, Jeffrey Steele, Shane Minor
12) “All Hell Broke Loose” – Keith Dozier, Adam Fears