Over my 30-plus years in radio, I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of people. But in the early fall of 1999, I was working in Ft. Myers Florida. One day, the record company called and planned a visit from a brand new act. They wanted me to meet them, let them play their new music, and go have some dinner. Why not? Let’s do this. Little did I know what was in store when I met Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery!
Meeting Montgomery Gentry
The day of the visit came. I walked to the front desk to meet my guests and there stood the two tallest men I’d ever seen in my life. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, Montgomery Gentry. Little did I know the friendship that was about to start. They played in our conference room, and I was blown away. So much so that I took them into the studio and put them on the radio. This was their first week on the road meeting radio stations and they didn’t even have their music on CD yet! But they had a cassette tape. I put the cassette tape in the player and played “Hillbilly Shoes” for the first time ever on the radio! A day they never forgot.
The Friendship with Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery begins
On that day and at that dinner, I made friends with two people that went on to be big stars in country music. And those two never forgot that day or that dinner. Funny story about that dinner… Everywhere they went, Troy would tell the server that it was Eddie’s Birthday. So, every dinner they went to, the restaurant would bring out the cake and sing to Eddie. It would make him so mad and Troy just loved it.
I know for a fact that Troy did this because I spent many nights with them over the years. Actually, I witnessed it firsthand many times. They even did it to me at a concert one night in Ft. Myers. Eddie called it payback. They called me up on the stage and told everyone it was my birthday. They even had a cake and made the whole club sing happy birthday to me. This was in like January and my birthday was in September. Payback I guess.
Through The Years
The 18 years that I got to have Troy Gentry in my life was a real blessing. It was an honor to call him and Eddie both friends. There were many times at shows I’d sit on the bus with Eddie and Troy. Then Troy would grab a guitar and start singing Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, and all the old stuff. There wasn’t a song Troy didn’t know. Tons of shows, phone calls, and text were nothing new. There was not a visit or phone call where the last thing they said to me was, I Love You, Brother.
The two played here in Augusta many times and loved this city. They played many Charity shows here and played Fort Gordon for the Military. I can tell ya I’ve driven from Washington DC to Miami and all points in between to see these guys play. I watched them turn into mega superstars and even bigger friends through it all. In the end, those memories are ones that can never be taken from me.
The Saddest Day Ever For Me
September 8th, 2017 was a day I will never forget. Around 3ish, I was in a meeting and my phone just started blowing up. I had so many text asking me had I heard the news. There were also so many I’m so sorry’s rolling in because people knew my relationship with Eddie and Troy. I had no idea what they were talking about. So I hit the internet and saw the news that Troy had been killed in an accidental helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey. I was stunned and just couldn’t move from the computer. Then, I just started crying in disbelief. I couldn’t speak a word for minutes. I just kept saying, “No, No No, it can’t be true. It just can’t be.” But the sad reality was that it was true. Troy Gentry was dead. I went home that night and just wept.
Your Country Music Fact Of The Day
On September 14, 2017, there was public memorial held at the Opry House to honor Troy. Vince Gill, Chris Janson, Trace Adkins, Little Big Town, and their Hero Charlie Daniels. I didn’t go to the service. I honestly didn’t think I could emotionally handle it. And from just watching the live stream, I was right. I miss Troy Gentry today as much as ever. Rest In Peace T-Roy.