History, Interviews, News

Eddie Montgomery reflects on his Kentucky country music roots

Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are part of the 2015 KY Music Hall of Fame Class – photo by Frederick Breedon IV
Tonight, country music duo, Montgomery Gentry, will be honored as one of the newest inductees into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. It is an accomplishment that only a few are chosen every other year. Just two years ago, Eddie Montgomery tearfully helped induct his brother, John Michael Montgomery, into the elite Hall of Fame.
Eddie Montgomery recently spoke in a personal interview, reflecting on his brother’s induction, the road that got them to where they are today, and his musical roots.
When he found out that Montgomery Gentry were to be honored, Eddie said that, “we were honored at our fan club party that we had last year. I tell you what, growing up here in the great state of Kentucky, and seeing all of the legends that have come out of Kentucky; it has been a whirlwind and unbelievable experience. There are more are legends that have come out of our state than any other state period. If I’m dreaming, please do not pinch and wake me up!”
Now that both he, as well as his brother, John Michael Montgomery, is a member of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, there is one person Eddie Montgomery wishes that could be there for the ceremony. That person would be their father, Harold, who passed away years ago, but instilled the qualities of a musician and singer. “Mom has been ecstatic about it. It is very unlikely that lightning strikes twice. I know that dad is up in heaven playing in the biggest honky-tonk having a ball,” according to Montgomery.
Since those beginnings of playing at clubs such as Austin City Saloon in Lexington, the music scene has changed quite a bit. Music venues and acts have come and gone. Eddie recognized the changes as well. “When the DJs came in and the karaoke came in, you miss that live music feel where everyone would get up and sing with the band. A lot of our legends that we grew up on that we loved; we had seen them in night clubs. When you go into a club, or see someone live, that’s who you want to be like. I want to sing like him or her. You want to be able to entertain like that. There is nothing like being in front of a live audience. We’ve seen it out on the road when new artists that are scared to death with they get out there and they don’t know what to do. They have got a great song that’s on the radio, but they really haven’t played live really. So when they get out in front of a 20,000 or 100,000 people at a festival, they lock up because they don’t know what to do.”
Eddie Montgomery maintained his roots in Kentucky, living just outside of Lexington in the community of Danville. He reflected on being raised in the area during our conversation. “I was born and raised here and I reckon that is where they will put me in the ground. I love it here with all the people here. Kentucky is the greatest state in the world. There is no greater place to live,” Eddie said.
When it comes to Kentucky made products, Eddie stated he loves Jim Beam and Ale-8-One. In describing Kentucky music, Montgomery said that, “it is roots, that’s the bottom line. It’s roots – it’s your soul. All of them are somehow or another, are born with a guitar, a radio, or microphone in their hand. Just about anywhere you go; everyone has got a guitar in their house.”
However, even with success in the music business, the last few years have been tough for both Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry. From battling cancer to a divorce with Eddie, to Troy’s wife now battling cancer, neither one has given up on living their dream. What keeps them going are their friends and family. “Life is very short and you better live every second of it. I don’t want to be that guy that wishes he would have tried that. At the end of my rainbow, I will probably be the one that says, ‘maybe I shouldn’t have tried that.’ I want to do it all. I want to live life to the fullest and I want to try it all,” Eddie said.
Being out on the road for over 20 years, the future of Montgomery Gentry continues to look bright. Both on and off stage, the duo enjoys making music and entertaining others. One day when they look back on their career, Eddie Montgomery said that he had one goal: “No matter where you go, any night club, or any Waffle House, they have a jukebox. You will see Waylon, Willie, Merle Haggard, Rolling Stones, and more. If you can look and find one of our songs on there, then we can sit back and say that we made it.”
Check out Montgomery Gentry on tour by going to www.montgomerygentry.com. Find out more about the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame by going to www.kentuckymusicmuseum.com.