Lebanon — Michael A. Kennedy, George Strait's longtime drummer, was killed in a car crash on Interstate 40 in Lebanon on Friday.

Kennedy, 59, of Baxter, was driving westbound in a 1999 GMC near mile-marker 238 in Wilson County when the crash occurred just before 4 p.m., according to Tennessee Highway Patrol officials.

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Kennedy drummed for George Strait's Ace in the Hole Band for nearly 30 years.

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

His GMC hit a tractor-trailer as it merged into another lane, according to THP's preliminary crash report. The tractor-trailer then hit a Chevrolet Silverado.

Kennedy was not wearing a seat belt, but investigators said it wouldn't have saved him anyway.

No one else was injured in the crash.

Several lanes of traffic were blocked during the investigation, causing delays for hours.

Kennedy played with Barbara Fairchild and Ricky Skaggs before backing Strait.

"I played with my dad's band from the time I was 7 to the time I was 15," Kennedy said in a YouTube video promotion for Zildjian Cymbals three years ago. "Then he turned me loose and said: 'Go on out and spoil the world, son, you're too good for my band.' So I did that."