The news of Keith Whitley’s death on May 9, 1989, shook the country world, especially when the cause of death was revealed to be his alcohol dependency. The singer had reportedly spent the weekend partying and was then found at home fully clothed and face down, dead from alcohol poisoning. Whitley was only thirty-three years old when he died.
Though Whitley’s career was tragically cut short, it gave him just enough time to make his mark on country music. From his first single’s release in 1984 to his untimely death in 1989, Whitley scored nineteen hit singles.
Whitley made a name for himself in country music with songs like “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Released in March 1988 as the third single from his album of the same name, the song reached No.1 in the United States while peaking at No. 2 in Canada. In addition to that, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was Billboard’s No. 1 Country Single Of The Year in 1988.
Written by Bob McDill, a Nashville songwriting giant whose songs were recorded by Waylon Jennings, Pam Tillis, and many others, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” sings about a man’s request for his partner to forget a previous paramour and make love with her eyes open.
“Don’t close your eyes, let it be me. Don’t pretend it’s him, in some fantasy. Darling just once, let yesterday go. And you’ll find more love than you’ll ever know. Just hold me tight, when you love me tonight. And don’t close your eyes,” the song goes. The song would later be cut by another country icon Alan Jackson and took the female point of view through Kellie Pickler’s rendition.
Keith Whitley’s Son And Wife Are Making Sure His Music Lives On
It’s a known fact that talent can certainly be passed down through generations, and Jesse Keith Whitley has proven this to be true. Jesse not only has a legendary father in Keith Whitley. He also has a talented country-singing mother in Lorrie Morgan, who was named Female Vocalist of the Year four times.
Jesse was not even two-years-old when his father died, so one of the only ways he was able to connect with him while growing up, was through music. In 2012, Jesse – an almost spitting image of his father – joined his mother for a once in a lifetime performance. He was a special guest at Lorrie Morgan’s show in Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma.
The mother and son duo came together to sing a breathtaking rendition of Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” The moment Jesse started singing his father’s iconic song, the crowd went wild! All Jesse had to sing was, “I know you loved him,” and you can immediately hear one fan yelling, “Sing it, Jesse!”
The audience’s response definitely made Morgan a little emotional. You can see her standing in the back, holding back her tears. The two have so much chemistry in this “Don’t Close Your Eyes” duet that it’s hard to imagine anyone singing this song better. And we’re sure the country icon would be so honored and impressed by this rendition.
Keith Whitley is definitely smiling down on his family. Watch the emotional performance of Lorrie Morgan and Jesse Keith Whitley below.