One of the most unfortunate losses in country music that we have had, Jackie Keith Whitley, more popularly known as Keith Whitley, would have turned 64 today. He was born on the 1st of July in 1954 in Ashland, Kentucky. Whitley spent his childhood years in the little town of Sandy Hook in Kentucky.
In 1970, Whitley started his musical career performing in Ralph Stanley’s band. Being a lead singer in bluegrass music, he transferred to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1983. Three years later, he debuted in the country music charts with his Top 20 hit single, “Miami, My Amy“, which was released in the same year. While on tour for his album L.A. to Miami, he married country singer Lorrie Morgan. A year before his death, he once again hit the charts with the first three singles from his album, Don’t Close Your Eyes. “When You Say Nothing at All”, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain”, and “Don’t Close Your Eyes” were number-one hits.
While his career was blooming, he passed away unfortunately due to alcohol poisoning on May 9, 1989, at his home in Nashville. He was just 34 years old. Just like talented artists Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Sr who died at a young age, Whitley’s music still and will always live on, inspiring budding artists in the industry.
During his career, Whitley only recorded two albums but charted 12 singles on the Billboard country charts. Furthermore, he charted 7 more after his death.
5 Hits That Prove Keith Whitley’s Legacy
There is no denying that Keith Whitley was one of the greatest artists of his time. He was one of those who introduced a new form and modern style of country music called “neotraditional country“. As a tribute to Whitley, we present to you 5 of his hits that stormed the charts and became his signature songs. Read, listen and enjoy!
1. “When You Say Nothing At All”
Whitley’s prominence in country music in the late 1980s continued to boost as he notched a second straight chart-topper from his album Don’t Close Your Eyes. “When You Say Nothing At All” went on top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1988. It has been covered by various artists most notably by American bluegrass-country music singer Alison Krauss and Irish pop singer Ronan Keating. Both versions were also chart-toppers.
2. “Don’t Close Your Eyes”
After the success of his first album, he managed to work on his second. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is the lead single of Whitley’s second album of the same name. It was written by American retired songwriter Bob McDill. Just like “When You Say Nothing At All”, it also went to no. 1 in the United States. In fact, it was Whitley’s first of his four number one songs. Meanwhile, it ranked second in Canada. The song is about a man pleading with his lover to let go of the ghosts from a previous relationship, and love him for who he is.
3. “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”
One fact about Whitley is his battle with depression as well as alcoholism. These two “demons” were the main culprit why he left us too soon. This emotionally riveting song seemed to have narrated his story even though he did not write it. Interestingly, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” became more prophetic than anyone knew. It notched the no. 1 spot on the music charts one month after the passing of Whitley.
4. “I’m Over You”
This is one of the songs that was released after Whitley’s death. It peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. In addition, “I’m Over You” tends to take a new meaning after his death. The third single from his posthumous album, I Wonder Do You Think Of Me, it reflected George Jones’ trademark and hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, making it an important moment in his catalog.
5. “Miami, My Amy”
This song was actually Whitley’s first entry at the charts. “Miami, My Amy” may have just peaked at no. 14, but it proved that Whitley was a great contender of an artist he is during that time. In addition, the song accentuated his roots as a traditional Kentucky boy.
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