Though Shelton’s longtime girlfriend Gwen Stefani is stepping in to replace Levine next season, the country star, Clarkson and Legend made it clear that the singer will be missed.
“Having a hard time wrapping my head around Adam not being at The Voice anymore,” Shelton wrote. “After 16 seasons that changed both of our lives. I only found out about this yesterday and it hasn’t set in on me yet.”
He concluded with a jab at Levine, who has become a close friend: “Gonna miss working with that idiot.”
Having a hard time wrapping my head around @adamlevine not being at @NBCTheVoice anymore. After 16 seasons that changed both of ours lives. I only found out about this yesterday and it hasn’t set in on me yet. Gonna miss working with that idiot.— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) May 24, 2019
Levine, 40, and Shelton, 42, were two of the original coaches when the show launched back in April 2011 and quickly built a bond, becoming good pals (and each winning the title of PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive during their Voice tenure).
“I remember when I saw him at the meeting at NBC, I was instantly very taken by him ’cause he was definitely not your typical country artist,” Levine told PEOPLE in 2017. “He was not a cookie-cutter guy, and the second we met, we were friends. All of the bulls— that we do comes from a place of love.”
The first time Shelton met Levine, “I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” says Shelton. “It was this skinny guy with a white T-shirt with the collar all stretched out. I remember turning to my manager and saying, ‘I think that’s Adam Levine.'”
Now years later, the pair have seen each other through many of life’s milestones and found lasting friendship. “He’s one of the most loving people I’ve ever known,” Shelton tells PEOPLE. “We drive each other nuts, but outside of this world, he’s one of my best friends and it’s because of his heart. He needs his face slapped around, but he has a huge, huge heart.”
Singling out Shelton specifically in his farewell message on Instagram shortly after the news broke Friday, Levine wrote, “BLAKE F—IN’ SHELTON. I couldn’t hide my love for you if I tried. Seriously. I tried. Can’t do it. Our friendship is and always will be one for the books. Whatever this whole surreal experience was, I’m just happy I got to experience it with you. You’re my brother for life.”
He added, “Kelly and John, take care of the cowboy and I’m sure I’ll be back to say hi very very soon. So much love to you both.”
In addition to his ongoing tour with Maroon 5 and working on new music, Levine will be busy at home with his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, and their young two daughters, 2½-year-old Dusty Rose and 15-month-old Gio Grace.
Fellow Voice coach Kelly Clarkson, 37, also expressed her disappointment over Levine’s departure from the show, adding how strange it will be to work on the show without him.
“Found out last night about Adam leaving The Voice & while I get that he’s been doing the show 4 a while & wants to step away, it will be weird showing up 4 work & he’s not there 👀 To start an amazing show from the ground up is a big deal!”
Found out last night about @adamlevine leaving The Voice & while I get that he’s been doing the show 4 a while & wants to step away, it will be weird showing up 4 work & he’s not there 👀 To start an amazing show from the ground up is a big deal!— Kelly Clarkson (@kellyclarkson) May 24, 2019
Responding to Levine’s Instagram post, newest coach John Legend, 40, wrote, “We’ll miss you, brother.”
The Voice‘s official Twitter account also praised Levine’s contributions before announcing the return of Stefani, who previously coached for three seasons.
“Our friend and coach Adam Levine made the decision not to return next season. We’re going to miss Adam, but The Voice is family and with family it’s ‘see you soon,’ never ‘goodbye. Gwen Stefani returns with Kelly, John, and Blake on The Voice stage this fall. Join us in welcoming back Gwen, and sharing our heartfelt gratitude to Adam!”