Exclusive | Eddie Montgomery talks about Troy Gentry’s death, upcoming tour

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT ) - When country star Eddie Montgomery returns to the stage next month, he won't be able to forget the impact Troy Gentry played on his life and music is what has helped him through the months since his singing partner was killed in a helicopter crash.

"Music. It’s always helped me no matter what happened. I got through it by music. So to me, that's the biggest healing tool,” Montgomery said about getting past the death of Troy Gentry who he simply calls "T." "We always said that we have been together longer than with our wives."

While the Kentucky natives joined forces in 1999, they knew each other decades earlier. Together, Montgomery Gentry had a string of five number one hits on the country charts and platinum albums.

"You know a lot of people get into the music business and stuff because they see the stardom or they see the money. Me and T, and John Boy, we got in it because we loved it," Montgomery said about Troy Gentry and his brother John Michael Montgomery.

"I am telling you man that I have been so blessed. I want to thank the man upstairs," Montgomery told WKYT's DeAnn Stephens.

As an inseparable team, Montgomery Gentry earned the Country Music Association's vocal duo of the year in 2000 and were inducted into Grand Ole Opry in 2009 and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Gentry died in a helicopter crash on September 8 in Medford, New Jersey, where the two were scheduled to perform hours later.

Life without Gentry has been tough, but Montgomery said the journey has been made easier by coming home and feeling the love from fans.

"Just here at home in Kentucky, I mean it's been totally awesome and everyone I have run into out there say man I can't wait for you to get back out there, can't wait to buy your CD. That has really been what has kept me rocking," he said.

Before the crash, the duo was putting the finishing touches on their new album "Here's to You," which should be released Feb. 2.

"The feelings can get to somebody more than ... and you're like I don't know if I can do it or not," Montgomery said. He will kick off a tour to promote the album in January.

"Of course all the guys are in the band still. We are getting ready to go into rehearsals, so that's going to be our private time when we all get a together and go 'okay,'" Montgomery said. "Just thinking about it, I think it's going to be my hardest part because I am so used to looking to the left and seeing T."

While Montgomery knows fans are ready for him to come home, he said he needs time because a show in Kentucky will be painful, but one he wants to make extra special.

"Playing around home, I'm trying to make sure I got all the bugs out and all that stuff. I want to have something here because this is where I started and that's the main thing, I want to have that rocking, killer show when you come home," said Montgomery.

While the National Transportation Safety Board's final report isn't complete, its preliminary investigation revealed the helicopter passed safety inspections just three weeks before the crash. The pilot was attempting to land using an emergency maneuver "which was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past," according to the NTSB.

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