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Mike Kennedy, longtime drummer for George Strait, dies in crash in Tennessee

Mike Kennedy, longtime drummer for country music star George Strait, has died in a car accident in Lebanon, Tennessee, Strait's publicist told CNN on Sunday.

LEBANON, Tenn. — Mike Kennedy, longtime drummer for country music star George Strait, has died in a car accident in Lebanon, Tennessee, Strait’s publicist told CNN on Sunday.

Kennedy, 59, was driving an SUV westbound on Interstate 40 on Thursday when he merged into the right lane of the highway and collided with a tractor-trailer, which in turn collided with a pickup, according to a report by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Kennedy, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed in the collision. No one else was killed or injured.

The longtime musician played drums with Strait for nearly 30 years. He first appeared on Strait’s 1992 album, “Holding My Own,” before joining his Ace in the Hole backing band, according to Rolling Stone.

“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,” Strait said in a statement on Facebook.

“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.”