LEBANON, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Mike Kennedy, the longtime drummer for country music legend George Strait, was killed in a car accident in Lebanon, Tennessee. He was 59.
According to CNN, Kennedy was driving westbound on Interstate 40 on Thursday when his SUV collided with a tractor-trailer. Kennedy, who was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt a the time, was killed in the collision.
“Hard to put into words how much Mike’s passing has affected us all. Our hearts are broken. It’s going to be very strange not being able to look over and see him there in his spot on stage and very emotional as well I’m sure for all of us and also his fans. The band will never be the same. A part of us is gone forever. We all loved Mike and will miss him terribly. He was just as solid a friend to us all as he was a drummer, and that was damn solid. Our hearts and prayers are with his family. The Lord has him now. Rest In Peace my friend,” Strait said in a statement released on Sunday.
Kennedy has performed as part of Strait’s Ace in the Hole band for almost 30 years after first appearing on Strait’s 1992 album, “Holding My Own.” He also performed with Barbara Fairchild, Ricky Skaggs, and Jamie Johnson, among others.
After news of Kennedy’s death broke, Strait’s tour manager Paul Rogers tweeted: “The heart beat of our band is gone. Not sure how we will get back on stage without him. But we must. Much love and respect my dear friend Mike Kennedy.”
Strait retired from touring in 2014, but still performs occasional one-offs, including a show in Las Vegas in December.