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They say that the first step is always the hardest. Eddie Montgomery’s first step on the stage was decades ago, but his first step without his Montgomery Gentry partner, Troy Gentry, just happened on Jan. 19.

We can’t speak for Eddie, but from the roar of support at that show at Denny Sanford Premiere Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it sounds like the duo’s amazing fans at least made it a little easier for the singer-songwriter to perform without his longtime friend, who lost his life in a tragic helicopter crash last September.

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Prior to performing the band’s 2005 No. 1, “Something to Be Proud Of,” Eddie told the crowd, “The last five-and-a-half months have been hell, but I tell you what, we want to thank y’all for having our backs.” He went on to say, “Most of the guys up here, most everybody up here has been with me and T for 20 years, 25 or better, and let me tell you, that’s something to be proud of.”

As animated and energetic as ever, Eddie also let his amazing band step up to the spotlight, giving him a chance to give his voice the break on songs that Troy usually took the lead on.

It had to be tough. And after the first weekend run of shows, the duo’s guitarist, Bo Garrett, shared photos, along with a heartfelt message on social media. He wrote, “Our first weekend is now behind us. Thank you #SiouxFalls #SouthDakota and #SaintCharles #Missouri! It was really emotional! But, with the help of all our MG friends, we may just be able to keep rollin’! And with a little help from T-Roy from up above …”

Longtime fans will notice that Eddie dropped Troy’s name out of “My Town” and threw the line “maybe later, me and old T-Roy will show you around my town” instead to his band. And you can’t help but think that may have just been too much for any of them to bear.

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You have to admire Eddie for continuing on in Montgomery Gentry’s name, but this is hardly the first challenge the Kentucky native has faced. In 2010, he shared the difficult news that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He and his wife of 20 years, Tracy, later divorced. And then, in 2015, Eddie’s 19-year-old son, Hunter, passed away from an alleged drug overdose.

Of course, Eddie is now happily remarried to wife Jennifer and his and Troy’s final album, “Here’s to You,” is set for a Feb. 2 release. He’ll also continue to tour through September in support of “Here’s to You” and the project’s debut single, “Better Me,” which featured Troy on lead vocals.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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