UPDATE: George Strait has released a statement regarding the death of his longtime drummer Mike Kennedy, who was killed in a car accident on Friday. “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,” said Strait. “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.”
George Strait‘s longtime drummer Mike Kennedy was killed Friday in a three-car crash on a highway outside of Lebanon, Tennessee. He was 59. Strait’s rep confirmed Kennedy’s death to Rolling Stone.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the SUV driven by Kennedy hit a tractor-trailer as the two vehicles merged into another lane; the tractor-trailer then careened into another vehicle. Kennedy was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, the Tennessean reports, but it’s unlikely a seatbelt would have saved his life. No one else was injured in the crash.
Kennedy served as Strait’s drummer for nearly 30 years, first appearing on the King of Country’s 1992 album Holding My Own before taking up residency as Strait’s touring drummer as a member of the entertainer’s famed Ace in the Hole backing band. Kennedy was also credited with working with Jamey Johnson, Ricky Skaggs and Freddie King.
Strait’s tour manager Paul Rogers tweeted following the news of Kennedy’s death, “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.”
George Strait, who retired from regular touring in 2014, is scheduled to perform in Las Vegas on December 7th.