George Strait has issued a statement following the death of his longtime drummer, Mike Kennedy, in a car accident on Friday (Aug. 31), in Lebanon, Tenn. On Facebook, the country superstar says it's "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 continues. "The band will never be the same. A part of us is gone forever."

Kennedy, 59, was driving his 1999 GMC Sierra westbound on Interstate 40 when, just before 4PM, near mile-marker 238 in Wilson County, he hit a tractor-trailer as it was merging into another lane. The tractor-trailer then hit a Chevrolet Silverado, according to a preliminary report on the accident.

Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the GMC's deceased driver as Kennedy, a resident of Baxter, Tenn.; he was not wearing a seatbelt, but investigators say that it would not have saved him had he been wearing one. No one else was injured in the crash, though the accident and the subsequent investigation blocked several lanes of traffic for hours.

"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," Strait adds in his Facebook post. "Our hearts and prayers are with his family. The Lord has him now. Rest In Peace my friend."

A drummer since childhood, Kennedy played with Barbara Fairchild and Ricky Skaggs before joining Strait's Ace in the Hole Band in the early 1980s, after original drummer Tommy Foote left the band to become Strait's road manager. A left-handed drummer, Kennedy also played with Jamey Johnson, Bill Anderson and others.

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