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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A celebration of the life of country music star Troy Gentry was held Thursday at the Grand Ole Opry.
The ceremony for the 50-year-old, who was killed in a helicopter crash in New Jersey last week, was open to the public.
“When you met Troy, he genuinely made you feel like you were the only person in the room, as if you were the most important person in the world. With a great, great big hug, he passed a little of himself to you, something that we all carry inside of us here today,” said longtime friend Rafael Calaro.
He continued, “And to his fans, you were his friends, he wanted to know about you and your families. This was extremely, extremely important to Troy. Well, that is who he was, he was always grateful for your love and dedication. I want to share with you, a quote from someone that Troy admired. ‘All I ever wanted was to help people. Love them, lift them up, spread some joy,’ Elvis said that.”
Little Big Town, Charlie Daniels and Vince Gill were among the performers.
PHOTOS: Troy Gentry
The crash occurred hours before they were due to perform at a resort housed at the airport, and the NTSB report said Gentry had taken the flight for pleasure before the show.
The pilot, James Evan Robinson, reported shortly after takeoff Friday that the aircraft was experiencing mechanical problems.
After discussing the issue with experts on the ground, Robinson decided to stop the engine and perform an autorotation — a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past — that would glide the helicopter down to a runway at the Flying W Airport in Medford.
The helicopter, though, soon went down and crashed in a wooded area near the airport.
Members of the band including the other half of the duo, Eddie Montgomery, were at the airport when the crash occurred.
Gentry was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met Montgomery and they formed an act based off their surnames.
“What I didn’t realize at the time, was it wasn’t just the music that was drawing me to him, it’s the infectious energy of Troy, and Eddy. Troy’s smile, Troy’s love of people, love of country, love of music and genuine love of everyone he came in contact with,” said broadcaster Storme Warren.
Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with “Roll With Me,” ″Back When I Knew It All,” ″Lucky Man,” ″Something to Be Proud Of” and “If You Ever Stop Loving Me.” Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 on the pop charts.
The band mixed country music with Southern rock. It was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. It released its debut album, “Tattoos & Scars,” in 1999.
Montgomery Gentry were on tour and getting ready to release new music next year for the band’s 20th anniversary.
Gentry is survived by his wife, Angie, and daughters Taylor and Kaylee.
“I believe that during this difficult time, Troy would use these words, do not cry because I am gone, smile because I lived, and boy did he live. Much like Batman, today Troy is our silent guardian, our watchful protector, our angel in the sky. He will watch over all of us, but he will always be by the side of his beautiful Angie, and his sweet daughters,” Calaro said.
Following the ceremony, a private internment was held for the family.