Mike Kennedy, George Strait's longtime drummer, was killed in a car accident on Friday (Aug. 31) in Lebanon, Tenn., outside of Nashville. He was 59 years old.

According to the Tennessean, Kennedy 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.

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.

"The heart beat of our band is gone," Paul Rogers, George Strait Productions' production manager, writes on Twitter. "Not sure how we will get back on stage without him. But we must. Much love and respect my dear friend Mike Kennedy."

The Boot will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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