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Following Troy Gentry’s tragic death in 2017 as a result of a helicopter accident, Montgomery Gentry’s Eddie Montgomery took the time to mourn his bandmate and friend. He didn’t rush to get the music out that they had finished just before that tragic day in September, and he certainly didn’t want to step onto that stage they both loved too quickly.

But eventually, he did both. He released Montgomery Gentry’s new album, “Here’s To You,” in February and, that same month, went back on a tour that will have Eddie on the road with his remaining bandmates throughout mid-September.

But take it from him – it hasn’t been easy.

RELATED: Eddie Montgomery breaks his Twitter silence for the first time since Troy’s death

“I know I’m supposed to be a big badass outlaw or whatever, but when we hit the stage a couple weeks ago without him, I was so nervous,” Eddie said in a new interview with Rolling Stone. “I was like ‘Oh my God’ – I thought I was gonna get sick. But finally I felt him in there, and I started smiling.”

Smiling, because God knows that’s how Troy would want it.

“I’m still waiting for him to chime in after me,” Eddie continued. “We had this thing where we knew each other so well. I’d be singing and I knew Troy was gonna come in at the end of the song and start talking, doing his thing, so I’d go back and get me a drink. But now I’m like, ‘Oh hell, I gotta get back up there!'”

Of course, returning to the road was far from an easy decision for Eddie.

RELATED: Eddie Montgomery talks about embracing life in the wake of Troy Gentry’s passing

“The label was asking me and so were our friends, and the band was coming to me like, ‘What are we thinking now?'” Eddie explains. “I was like, ‘I’m not sure, guys. What do you think?’ Then we talked to [Troy’s widow] Angie, and she said, ‘You know Troy would want you to do this.’

“Most of our [band members] have been with us 20 or 25 years, so we’re family. We’ve been through some stuff – personal stuff – and we’ve always helped each other out,” he continued. “So we had a meeting on it and decided, ‘We can do this, and T would want us to do it, because it’s always been a brotherhood.'”

But what comes next? What is to become of one of the biggest and most loved country music duos of all time? When one gets this big of a reminder of how short life really is, how does it change one’s future? How will it change the future of Montgomery Gentry?

“I’m gonna leave that up to our friends, and we’ll know by the end of the tour this year,” Eddie says, using the name the duo has always used in place of the word “fans.” “They’ll either tell me to go home, or ‘Hey man, can we have some more music?'”

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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