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George Strait’s longtime drummer Mike Kennedy has died in a car crash

Mike Kennedy on stage with George Strait.

Mike Kennedy on stage with George Strait. | Terry Calonge)

Michael A. “Mike” Kennedy, George Strait’s longtime drummer, has died in a car crash in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Kennedy, 59, of Baxter, Tennessee, was driving on Interstate 40 when his GMC hit a tractor-trailer as it merged into another lane, after which the truck hit a Chevrolet Silverado., according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Kennedy wasn’t wearing a seat belt, but investigators said it appeared that doing so probably wouldn’t have saved him because the crash was so bad. No one else was hurt.

Kennedy drummed for Strait’s Ace in the Hole Band for nearly 30 years.

“Our hearts are broken,” Strait said. “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 … 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.”

Mike Kennedy.

Mike Kennedy. | Provided photo

Kennedy played with Barbara Fairchild and Ricky Skaggs before backing Strait.

“I played with my dad’s band from the time I was 7 to the time I was 15,” Kennedy said in a YouTube video promotion for Zildjian Cymbals three years ago. “Then, he turned me loose and said, ‘Go on out and spoil the world, son, you’re too good for my band.’ So I did that.”