'Voice' Coaches React to Adam Levine's Exit: Blake Shelton Is 'Gonna Miss Working with That Idiot'

Though Blake Shelton's longtime girlfriend Gwen Stefani is stepping in to replace Adam Levine next season, the country star made it clear that the singer will be missed

Adam Levine announced Friday that he’s leaving The Voice after 16 seasons — and no one is sadder than his fellow coaches.

Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend reacted to the Maroon 5 frontman’s sudden departure after the news broke Friday morning.

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.”

Adam Levine Blake Shelton The Voice
Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo bank

Blake Shelton and Adam Levine in May 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.”

Universal CityWalk Tree Lighting Ceremony with 'The Voice' coaches and artists
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Blake Shelton and Adam Levine in 2014

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.”

Adam Levine Blake Shelton The Voice
Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in 2011. Kevin Winter/Getty

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in 2011

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!”

Responding to Levine’s Instagram post, newest coach John Legend, 40, wrote, “We’ll miss you, brother.”

The Voice - Season 16
The Voice coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Adam Levine. Trae Patton/NBC

Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Adam Levine

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!”

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