NEW YORK (AP) — As one half of Montgomery Gentry, Troy Gentry — who died Friday in a helicopter crash — helped the country music duo become a successful act in the genre, launching countless hits, winning multiple awards and reaching platinum status throughout the 2000s.
Gentry, 50, was killed hours before the band was set to hit the stage — a second home for the singer and guitarist from Kentucky.
The helicopter carrying Gentry crashed in a wooded area near the Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey, around 1 p.m. Friday. Montgomery Gentry was supposed to perform Friday in Medford.
Gentry was born on April 5, 1967 in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met bandmate Eddie Montgomery, known for his signature hat. Later, they formed a group based off their last names.
Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with "Roll With Me," ''Back When I Knew It All," ''Lucky Man," ''Something to Be Proud Of" and "If You Ever Stop Loving Me." Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 of the pop charts.
"Troy Gentry's family wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy at this time," the statement read.
The band mixed country music with Southern rock and was known for their blue-collar anthems. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009 and into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
Montgomery Gentry released their debut album, the platinum-seller "Tattoos & Scars," in 1999. Two of their albums, "My Town" and "You Do Your Thing," also achieved platinum status, while several of their albums were gold successes.
"We didn't want to be an overnight success like acts that have one or two hits and then go away. We wanted the longevity like Waylon, Willie, Charlie, Cash, Kristofferson. All those cats; and they weren't about No. 1 hits all the time," Gentry said in a quote from the band's website biography. "They had enough success with their music to be appreciated, to be able to play as long as they wanted to, and they did it the way they wanted to."
Several country singers wrote touching words on social media about Gentry's death on Friday, the same day country singer Don Williams died. Randy Houser called Friday a "sad day in country music," while Brad Paisley tweeted: "God bless you Troy Gentry. Heartbroken and in disbelief."
Montgomery Gentry's latest album was 2015's "Folks Like Us." It featured the song "Two Old Friends," which describes the longstanding bond between Montgomery and Gentry.