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Keith Whitley

Keith Whitley's legacy loomed large over the country music landscape of the '90s. A talented new country singer and songwriter, Whitley was just beginning to emerge as a superstar at the time of his death in 1989. Throughout the next decade, his reputation as both a performer and writer continued to grow, as other artists had hits with his songs and posthumous recordings climbed into the Top Ten.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Whitley began singing as a child, winning a talent contest at the age of four. When he was eight years old, he learned how to play guitar and within a year he was singing on a Charleston, WV-based radio station. Whitley formed his first band at the age of 13, playing nothing but straight bluegrass. A few years later, he formed the Lonesome Mountain Boys with his high school friend, Ricky Skaggs. The Lonesome Mountain Boys primarily played Stanley Brothers songs and soon became a popular attraction.

In the late '60s, Ralph Stanley was looking to re-form his band after the death of his brother and partner, Carter. He was so impressed with Whitley and Skaggs, he asked them to join his Clinch Mountain Boys group. The duo accepted the offer immediately and began appearing with the band in 1970. Whitley stayed with the Clinch Mountain Boys for two years, recording a total of seven albums, including 1971's Crying From the Cross, which was named the Bluegrass Album of the Year.

In 1973, Whitley left the group. For two years, he drifted through various other bands, including acts that played country, not bluegrass. He returned to the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1975 and stayed with them for another two years. During his second tenure with the band, he made five albums. In 1978, Keith joined J.D. Crowe's band the New South. Whitley recorded three albums with the New South between 1978 and 1982, which vacillated between bluegrass and straight country (the highlights of this era were re-released on CD as Sad Songs & Waltzes in 2000).

Whitley began a full-fledged solo career after leaving the New South in 1982. Signing with RCA Records, he released his debut album, Hard Act to Follow, in 1984. A record of pure honky tonk, it didn't attract much of an audience. The following year, he released L.A. to Miami, a more commercial affair which spawned the number 14 single "Miami, My Amy." After that single peaked early in 1986, he had three back-to-back Top Ten hits: "Ten Feet Away," "Homecoming '63," and "Hard Livin'." Late in 1986, he married Lorrie Morgan.

Although L.A. to Miami was a success, its slick production didn't please Whitley. In 1987, he recorded a follow-up to the record that sounded exactly the same as its predecessor. Unsatisfied with the musical direction of his new effort, Whitley convinced RCA to shelve the completed album and have him work on another record with a new producer, Garth Fundis. Don't Close Your Eyes was the result. Released in the spring of 1988, the album solidified Whitley's commercial standing. The first three singles from Don't Close Your Eyes -- "Don't Close Your Eyes," "When You Say Nothing at All," and "I'm No Stranger to the Rain" -- were all number one hits.

Things may have been going smoothly on the surface for Keith Whitley, but behind the scenes he was being torn apart by alcoholism. On May 9, 1989, he suffered from a fatal case of alcohol poisoning; he was 34 at the time of his demise. Just before his death, he completed his fourth album, I Wonder Do You Think of Me. The record was released shortly after his death and its first single, which was the title track, reached number one, as did its follow-up, "It Ain't Nothin"; another single from the album, "I'm Over You," reached number three in 1990. During the '90s, RCA repackaged and re-released many of Whitley's recordings -- including several unreleased songs -- in various compilations. Lorrie Morgan recorded an electronic duet, "'Til a Tear Becomes a Rose," with her late husband in 1990; it peaked at number 13. In 1994, a tribute album to Whitley was released. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Still love this song.
blackops8891

Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this do don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this so scary because it actually works
i fall in love with his voice over and over again our lost was heaven's gain
What a smooth voice!! No one sings like Keith.
zosiriss1998 5 z x x i
@alysialove1 6 your probably refering to Alison Krauss because she can't touch Keith Whitley's classic, even though her voice is still beautiful but nobody ever does it like Keith.
Hate it much better when the girl sings it
awesome singer
I
This song just hits my heart.
Love his music.
I ALWAYS wondered who sang 'when you say nothing at all'!
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this do don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this so scary because it actually works
F**k you Lori Morgan! F**kin c**t! Keep singing in heaven Keith! Such a great voice you had. You are missed and loved
Still love Keith Whitley's music and always will.
pfspanda5
Great singer who no doubt would have gone on to be an all-time great with the likes of George Jones! Robbed by alcohol and personal troubles. Still love his voice!
His music is still listen to and love.
zosiriss1998 5 z x x i
@jbyrne70 Why are you even commenting here to judge something your not attended to? Country is a real goal of speaking the heart and now your putting down our dead influence for this new generation? you are business to be here talking sloppy about Keith Whitley, Guns N Roses is s**t btw.
Hard living! Yeah Keith rest now we, my wife & I will remember you till it's our time to meet our maker. God bless you family.
Keith..Keep singing in heaven brother.!!!
jean5941
So SO good.
Lori Morgan leached off Keith 'til he died. Then rode on his legacy as long as it paid. I hope her payback, just like her, is a bi*ch.
Love this song.
jbyrne70
Why is this HORRIBLE s**t on my Guns N Roses radio station? COUNTRY SUCKS!
ledzep693
Keith Whitley is the s**t
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this do don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this so scary because it actually works
Drinkin music .....thinkin g of my dad
at the time of his death i worked @ 7-11 in Nashville Keith and my son have the same name .At the time I did not know he was a singer. When I read about his death I was heart broken.Such a young and wonderful man.Had such a beautiful personality.
What s beautiful voice . Beautiful song. Gone too soon. R.I.P Keith Whitley
pullenrobert o
Would have been best country singer ever
katpoole
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this do don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this so scary because it actually works
We played this song during the DVD part of our daughters service. She had lupus and she was most certainly no stranger to the rain
Don't be stupid janglisson George jones will always be the king.
I'm from sandy hook, ky - same as keith - he never sang a bad song. Unreal...che c k out his nephew John Whitley also frm sandy hook also passed. Youtube John Whitley...fu r t h e t down the bottle and outlaws & bulldogs. Real country do yourself a favor!
Although I had heard several of his songs, I had no idea who Keith Whitley is/was, and who these songs were sung by until now.......Ke i t h Whitley....W o W . . t h a n x , RIP......Ste v e McLeskey
fancherl
Kiss ur left hand 2. Say ur crushes name 3. Close ur hand 4. Say a school day 5. Open ur hand 6. Post this on 15 songs and ur crush will ask u out
Between and Old Memory and Me is an all time classic. One of the greatest songs ever written in my opinion.
If this man were still with us today there would be no king GEORGE... it would be king WHITLEY... by far the best country artist to ever get on stage....and by far my number one choice...if he were still here...thing s would be different... R I P . . K e n t u c k y blue bird
Another great musician lost to substance abuse. Why can't people learn from OTHER PEOPLE'S mistakes? RIP Mr.Whitley.
Most certainly one of THE greatest voices ever. And songs. Great drinking song.
He was an amazing artist!!!!!
wow keith and lorrie together sounds alot like angels
Don't read this cause it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day ofyour life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary. Put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters. This is scary cause it really works
Don't read this cause it actually works.

It doesnt get any better than Keith Whitley.
I love my country and this is what it's all about: Keith Whitley ya'll!
The voice!
Man that's such beautiful music, I could listen to Keith Whitley all day I love his voice, and lots of his songs are my favorites
gosh i his is voice!!! he can just break your heart with his songs
I Love This Song:)
Keep on "pickin" up there in the clouds above Mr. Whitley! Thanks for the great music.
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