Country music suffered an unspeakable loss as two of its biggest stars died within hours of each other on Friday, Sept. 8. Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo, Montgomery Gentry, died in a helicopter crash on Friday afternoon, and country music legend Don Williams died earlier in the day after a short illness, making Sept. 8 one of the darkest days ever in country music.
Gentry’s shocking death was announced on the official Montgomery Gentry website, revealing that the 50-year-old singer was tragically killed in a helicopter crash at approximately 1 p.m. in Medford, New Jersey, as his musical partner Eddie Montgomery waited for him at the airport. Montgomery Gentry was scheduled to perform at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford on Friday night. The platinum-selling duo behind hits like “Where I Come From” had been performing together since 1999.
Shortly before Troy Gentry’s shocking death, Rolling Stone announced that country music’s “Gentle Giant,” Don Williams, passed away at age 78 after a short illness. Williams was a staple of country radio in the 1970s and ’80s, releasing 16 No. 1 songs between 1974 and 1985, including “Tulsa Time,” “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” and “It Must Be Love.” Don Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Country music stars immediately reacted to the sad deaths of two of their own, taking to social media to remember Troy Gentry and Don Williams. Country music superstar Travis Tritt seemed especially rocked by the news of the loss of his two friends, revealing that he had just seen Troy Gentry a few weeks ago. Tritt posted a tearful video revealing that he was in shock over the deaths of Williams, whom he considered a country music hero, and his dear friend, Gentry.
Tritt also shared a photo of Troy Gentry dressed in an Elvis costume, explaining that his longtime friend had brought him his guitar on stage in that outfit just a few weeks ago. Travis Tritt later paid tribute to the late stars during his concert in Minnesota.
In addition to Tritt, other stars, like Billy Ray Cyrus and Marina McBride, dedicated songs to the late country music stars during their concerts on Friday night. Take a look at the overwhelming social media reaction to the deaths of Troy Gentry and Don Williams.
Take a look at the videos below for more on country music’s darkest day as fans mourn the deaths of Troy Gentry and Don Williams.
[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Outback Concerts]