If you live even before those days when George Strait was about to be known because of ‘Unwound’ and he was still building himself as a rising country act or when Randy Travis just signed with Warner Bros. Records, you probably know that Keith Whitley was already grinding since 1974 as a lead singer for Ralph Stanley.
You would also know that the country act who originally popularized ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ is Keith Whitley and not Alison Krauss. Of course, Ronan Keating only catapulted it during the 90’s era.
Keith Whitley; Discography, and Death
The most tragic event in a country artist’s life is career suicide due to several personal mishaps but Keith Whitley’s story taught us greater realizations about one’s life choices.
During the pinnacle of his career, Whitley admits that he was a longtime alcoholic. This was rooted from a depression he was trying to brave every day of his life which made quitting the vice next to impossible. It was on May 9, 1989, when Whitley’s final moments would come when his brother-in-law, Lane Palmer found him lifeless in his bed.
It was reported that the country singer’s blood alcohol level rose to .47 and it was medically declared that the cause of death was alcohol poisoning. His wife, Lorrie Morgan also attested to her husband’s alcoholism and the struggle that Whitley has to face every day. She told People Magazine:
“Keith was great for months at a time, and then for no reason at all, he’d start drinking, Once he started, you literally had to tie him down or lock him up to make him quit.
I tied my robe belt to my leg and to his ankle at night so I would know if he tried to get out of bed. Otherwise he would continue drinking until he passed out. I had to rush him to the emergency room several times in the past because he quit breathing; the paramedics always got to him in time.”
Keith Whitley; Posthumous Recognition
That was one of the saddest times in country music as one of its successful singers that is still enjoying his success faced his sudden demise. His remains were buried in Spring Hill Cemetery outside Nashville, Tennessee but his influence braved his untimely passing.
It might be a coincidence but Whitley made sure he left something for the public as a reminder that he was once their country hero; he finished ‘I Wonder Do You Think of Me,’ his fourth studio album released in August which was three months after he died. Consecutively, it produced two number ones: ‘I Wonder Do You Think of Me’ and “It Ain’t Nothin’.
Apart from these chart-toppers, Whitley also received several posthumous awards and nominations such as two Grammy nominations for the Best Country Vocal Collaboration after his recorded voice was resurrected as vocals to another country artist’s song.
Indeed, you are missed dearly, Keith Whitley.