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From the Vault: Montgomery Gentry (2000)

Strolling down Hollywood Boulevard, Eddie Montgomery and musical partner Troy Gentry are causing quite a stir. They look as though they just walked off the set of a western movie—which, as it turns out, is what several passers-by think.

Originally published in the April 4, 2000 issue of Country Weekly featuring Alan Jackson and Shania Twain on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.

Strolling down Hollywood Boulevard, Eddie Montgomery and musical partner Troy Gentry are causing quite a stir. They look as though they just walked off the set of a western movie—which, as it turns out, is what several passers-by think.

“It’s John Wayne!” one onlooker whispers excitedly to a companion. But when reminded that Wayne passed away years ago, the woman gives Troy another close look. “Well,” she finally declares, “he must be someone in movies.”

Troy Gentry laughs, but he likes the idea. “I would like to play a bad boy in a movie,” he says as he and Eddie hunt for Wayne’s “bootprints” at the famous Mann’s Chinese Theater. Their touring schedule has brought them to Los Angeles, and they wanted to take an afternoon to see the sights of Tinseltown.

The duo can’t resist the souvenir offer at Mann’s to make their own hand imprints, so they subject themselves to the odd sensation of submerging their palms in cement. “I shoulda had a few before doing this,” comes Eddie’s gravelly complaint with a chuckle. “This is definitely a little different. It’s funny: Growing up as a kid, you’d wait for someone to pour concrete to make a new sidewalk, and then you’d go write in it and they’d get madder than hell.”

“This reminds me of playing in mud,” says Troy with a laugh. “I just hope my hand comes out of here.” It does, and then the twosome is off down the street to the Hollywood Wax Museum, where they see some of their heroes, including John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, immortalized in wax. They pose inside a diorama featuring a more current hero, movie super-spy Austin Powers. “We got both the Austin Powers movies on the bus which we watch ritually,” says Eddie. “I’m a big fan,” agrees Troy. “When we have a long drive, we stick Austin Powers into the VCR and have a big laugh.”

Also in the wax scene are The Beatles, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and David Bowie. The spectrum of entertainers reminds Troy and Eddie of their own eclectic musical tastes. “We like all types of music,” Eddie says. “We had a lot of heroes growing up.” Their own music reflects their varied musical menu. Their debut album, Tattoos & Scars, had just enough rough edges to be reminiscent of some of the more rebellious artists of yesteryear.

“I don t know if we are rebels or not,” Montgomery says with a laugh, “but we like to have a lot of fun. If you want to put us in a category with guys like Charlie Daniels, Waylon, Willie, Merle Haggard and Lynryd Skynryd, I can’t think of a better gang that I’d rather run with.”

“Eddie and I aren’t hunks of clay that can be molded into something we’re not,” Gentry adds. I’ve grown up and matured through the honky tonks and clubs, so we pretty much know what we are, what we’d like to do and what we want to be.”

Radio embraced their first single, “Hillbilly Shoes”, and their current “Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm” has been following suit. It’s definitely a song the two Kentucky-bred boys understand. “It reminded us a bunch of our heritage and roots back home,” explains Troy. We both had families in farming while we were growing up and it hit home. A couple of my family members were put out of the farming business because of the lack of income, so they had to find other jobs to support their families. At the same time, the song is about the everyday working man standing up for what he believes in and not being forced out of a particular career for whatever reason.”

“The song definitely hit home,” Eddie agrees, pulling some of the song’s lyrics into real-life focus. “I’ve also seen cattle get loose where stores and malls are being built, and farmers trying to drive their tractors down what used to be an old road, but is now a superhighway, with people blowing horns at them.”

While Troy, who tied the knot last December, recently moved to Nashville, Eddie remains rooted in Kentucky. “Lexington is horse country and I love it,” he states as he looks around at the Hollywood surroundings. “It’s a lot flashier here than at home,” he admits. Out here, you can definitely be yourself, whatever you want to be, and nobody thinks twice about it, regardless of the color of your hair or what clothes you re wearing.

“I couldn t imagine living anywhere but Kentucky, though. We’ve been everywhere and seen a lot of beautiful places, but when I cross that Kentucky state line, I still feel that feeling.”

“I’m trying to buy the farm I’m leasing right now,” he continues. “I’m always going to live on a farm. It’s just me. The city is great, but I’m a farm boy and always have been.”

“Moving to Nashville was a hard decision to make,” explains Troy. “I grew up in the same town I was born in—Lexington. I went to school there all my life, I went to the University of Kentucky, all my family is there, except for my daughter. But it’s like any career or job, you need to be where your work is. I’m more of a hands-on person. I like to be around the everyday happenings, and when we re recording, I get to go home at the end of the night and sleep in my own bed.”

Although the duo says there’ll be one more single from Tattoos & Scars either “Self Made Man” or “Trying To Survive”—they are already back in the studio recording the follow-up album. “It is going to be a lot like the first album,” Troy says. “The music will be in-your-face. It’s still going to be a country album, but we re going to bring a little more of our Southern influence to it.”

After years of pounding it out in the clubs, Montgomery Gentry is finally enjoying the financial stability that their current success has brought to their lives. “The best thing is knowing I can pay the bills,” Eddie says. “And if I want to buy a toy, I can,” he adds with a big grin.

The toy he says he’s “foolin’ with” these days is a recently purchased Jeep. “I’m turning it into a hunting Jeep. Anything that has to do with guns and knives, I’m into big time. Hopefully by next year I’ll have some more land and I’ll be buyin’ those bigger toys—tractors and stuff.”

Troy has some different toys picked out. “I’m a big fan of Chevrolet, so when the time comes and I can afford it, I d like to get me a big Chevrolet pickup,” he says. “I’ve always dreamed of having a Corvette.” Troy is also a big Batman fan. In fact, one of the stops on the duo’s Hollywood stroll is into a tattoo parlor to add some bats to the tattoo around Troy’s ankle.

“It’s a lot of fun hanging out in L.A.,” Troy says. “Not many people get to travel and see stuff like this. That’s one of the pluses being in the music industry—you get to see things you probably wouldn’t get to see if you had a regular 9-to-5 job.”

Traveling is definitely a huge part of their lives now. “Angie has been very understanding,” Troy says of his wife. “She’s been with me throughout the first year of touring, and she’s been able to come out on the road with us quite a bit, which helps keep the relationship together.”

“My wife and kids are used to it,” Eddie agrees. “As a matter of fact, if I’m home for more than two days, I screw up their world, they’re ready for me to go back to work. It’s what I’ve done my whole life, so I’m used to traveling. The only difference now is, instead of a 73 Pinto, we have a tour bus. That, and a couple of new Hollywood tattoos.”