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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

tori country girl and red neck ur hot
This song go to that ugly b**ch Destiny
Great song
Hi how are you
Hi
Greatest country singer of all time one of the best voices ever to sing into a mic by far should had been more of his music for all his fans to hear sad he had to go so early.. rip whitley
evam2004
I miss you. YOU ARE AND ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES. UP THERE WITH ELVIS IN MY HEART!!
RIP for TJ
RIP...great singer.....
I loved his music, don't close your eyes love it!
What can you say about this guy...I believe if he was still with us we be putting him and King George's in the same sentence, but sadly, we will never know.
I love his songs
Love this song
Keith?
Love all of his songs best country artist of the 80's
jkiesel54
great song!

My Amy,...I miss u, Where r u? COME BACK!
I luv this this damn song! Luv me 2nite,
Love this song.
Such a beautiful song ������
you stole her song
vorhiesdean
This song was not written for Lori Morgan by Keith Whitley. It was written by Leon Everette.. Just saying.
Say nothing at all......
Great song.
More than classic..... T o p shelf!
Wish I had a love song written just for me as beautiful. One of best songs written ever! Lvn the "Keith".
Yea his music is still here.
Still no one like you...too bad we never got to hear more from you, although, we r blessed and can still listen to ur awesome voice today. An Angel, among us.
Still listen and love this song.
Fulmer, you out there? Still lvn you!
Never ever be another keith like you I still lv u
ctmigear
He music still lives on!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! !
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.
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