On April 8, 1989, Keith Whitley earned his third consecutive number 1 hit. The single was “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” from his album, Don’t Close Your Eyes.
As part of the charts, this was his second from his first record breaker track “When You Say Nothing At All”. While Whitley was at the top of his game, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” was the last single he saw claim the number 1 spot.
Through RCA Records, Don’t Close Your Eyes was released on May 31, 1988. After the success of his debut album, L.A. to Miami in 1985, Whitley re-entered the studio. Working with producer Blake Mevis, he began recording a second album. Following its completion, Whitley was dissatisfied with its production. As a result, he had his recordings shelved. Don’t Close Your Eyes was subsequently recorded with producer Garth Fundis. The liner notes of the album pay tribute to Fundis and Whitley with production on all tracks. Mevis got the credits for the tracks “Some Old Side Road” and “Would These Arms Be in Your Way”.
Gaining commercial success, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Keith’s hit gold. It contained three consecutive number one hits on the Hot Country Singles chart: “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “When You Say Nothing at All”, and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain”.
His Greatest Battle
Ironic as it may have been, just as the 34-year-old could be heard over the airwaves singing:
“If I don’t keep my head up, I may drown / But it’s hard to keep believing / I’ll even come out even / While the rain beats your hope in the ground / And tonight it’s really coming down”,
He was battling an ongoing alcohol addiction. A month later, Whitley was found dead in his home on May 9. Based on his medical records, his blood alcohol level was six times higher. His cause of death was attributed to acute alcohol poisoning.
His sudden death shocked the music industry, including Whitley’s good friend, Vince Gill. Following his death, Vince began writing “Go Rest High on That Mountain. Gill wrote the first verse after Whitley’s passing. A few years later, Vince finished the song after his brother, Bob, passed away.