Troy Gentry of the Country Music duo Montgomery Gentry performs on the Rebels On The Run Tour in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 2013. (AP file)

Stars honor country singer Troy Gentry at Opry memorial

Country singer Troy Gentry, who died Sept. 8 in a helicopter crash, was memorialized Thursday.

By Kristin M. Hall / Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country singer Troy Gentry of the popular duo Montgomery Gentry was memorialized Thursday by friends and Grand Ole Opry singers as funny and kind, an artist with a huge appetite for life who loved his family, his music, his band and his fans.

During a public celebration of his life held at the Opry, friends reminisced about Gentry’s big personality, his flashy smile and his jokes. They sang songs he loved to sing, along with some about his home state of Kentucky.

Gentry, 50, died Friday in Medford, New Jersey, in a helicopter crash. The pilot, James Evan Robinson who was also killed, reported shortly after takeoff that the aircraft was having mechanical problems.

Gentry’s own voice, on an unreleased song from a forthcoming album, closed the ceremony. “Better Me” featured Gentry singing about how he was a bit older and a little less reckless, and had turned a page on his wilder days.

“I ain’t saying I am perfect, but I am working on a better me,” he sings in the ballad.

Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels and Trace Adkins were among the stars who gathered at the service to sing songs like “How Great Thou Art,” ”Wayfaring Stranger,” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” Gentry’s casket was placed in the famous circle in the middle of the Opry stage, where he often stood to sing with duo partner Eddie Montgomery, and was surrounded by sprays of white and red roses.

Gentry and Montgomery were inducted into the Opry in 2009 after a string of No. 1 country hits and platinum albums with their mixture of Southern rock and country. Some of their hits included “Roll With Me,” ”Back When I Knew It All,” ”Lucky Man,” ”Something to Be Proud Of” and “If You Ever Stop Loving Me.”

Montgomery Gentry was the only duo to interrupt the win streak held by Brooks and Dunn in the Country Music Association’s vocal duo category between 1992 and 2006 when they won in 2000.

Gill was remembered for his charity work for the T.J. Martell Foundation, and the USO, his love for Halloween and Christmas holidays, Elvis Presley and Disney movies.

Gentry is survived by his wife, Angie Gentry, as well as his daughters, Taylor and Kaylee.

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