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Country singer Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry dies in helicopter crash

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Country music duo Montgomery Gentry, Eddie Montgomery (L) and Troy Gentry, arrives at the 45th Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee November 9, 2011. REUTERS/Harrison McClary/File Photo2 / 2

LOS ANGELES - Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry, died in a helicopter crash on Friday in New Jersey, his label confirmed. He was 50.

According to a statement issued by Average Joes Entertainment, the crash took place at approximately 1 p.m. in Medford, N.J. Additional details of the crash are currently unknown.

Gentry was set to perform, along with his Montgomery Gentry partner Eddie Montgomery, Friday night at the Flying W Airport & Resort in Medford. The concert had been canceled even before Gentry was revealed to have been a victim in the accident.

According to NJ.com, one other individual, reportedly the pilot of the craft, was also killed in the crash. Montgomery was reportedly not on the helicopter.

The Federal Aviation Administration told NJ.com that a Schweizer 269 helicopter crashed into a wooded area off the Runway 1 at the airport. Medford Township Police Chief Richard Meder said authorities got a call of a "distressed" helicopter around 1 p.m.

The Kentucky-based duo formed in the late '90s, and is perhaps best known for their hit "My Town," along with other singles like "Hillbilly Shoes" and "Headlights." They were named duo of the year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association in 2000, and were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.

The band tweeted just hours before the crash, writing, "Heading to Medford, New Jersey to play tomorrow! Ya looking forward to the show? WE ARE!"

The two longtime collaborators always wanted to make it clear that Montgomery Gentry was not a duo that was put together by the industry, a la the popular perception of Brooks & Dunn. "After artists come to Nashville, then (the labels) put duos together," said Montgomery. "See, we were friends before we were ever a duo -- and so that's different, I reckon -- lifetime friends, man, hanging out together."

"What Eddie and I have always done, or tried to do, going into the studio, is find those great American songs that everyday people out there can identify with," Gentry said in a 2011 interview. The themes of pride in the country lifestyle, small towns, and the military were recurring themes in the duo's music.

"I think it's just where we come from, and our parents were very proud and raised us to be that way," he said. "Of course when you're coming up through the honky tonks and VFW clubs and stuff like that, you see a lot of our American heroes, and you see the working class people coming in, and even the boys and girls going to school coming in and hanging out. I reckon we're kind of their voice. They want us to know and want us to sing about it. They'll tell us a story and say, 'Hey, man, can you write a song about it?' or 'This is what happened to me,' and we'll find those kinds of songs."

Gentry is survived by his two daughters, Kaylee and Taylor, and his wife, Angie McClure, who he married in 1999.

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