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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: RCA Country Legends

1. Some Old Side Road

2. A Day In The Life Of A Fool

3. Ten Feet Away

4. I Never Go Around Mirrors

5. The Birmingham Turnaround

6. Homecoming '63

7. Hard Livin'

8. Don't Close Your Eyes

9. When You Say Nothing At All

10. I'm No Stranger To The Rain

11. I Wonder Do You Think Of Me

12. Lucky Dog

14. Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

15. Quittin' Time

x

Track List: Sad Songs and Waltzes

1. I Never Go Around Mirrors

2. (I've Always Been) Honky Tonk Crazy

3. To Be Loved by a Woman

4. Where Did You Learn to Love Like That?

5. I Would Have Loved You All Night Long

6. Somewhere Between

7. Girl from the Canyon

8. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

9. I Don't Know You Well Enough to Say Goodbye

10. Dance with Me Molly

11. Where Are All the Girls I Used to Cheat With?

12. Sad Songs and Waltzes

13. Another Town

14. Long Black Limousine

15. Family Tree

x

Track List: The Essential Keith Whitley

1. Turn Me To Love

2. Living Like There's No Tomorrow (Finally Got To Me Tonight)

3. If You Think I'm Crazy Now (You Should Have Seen Me When I Was A Kid)

4. Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

5. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight

6. On The Other Hand

7. Miami, My Amy

8. Ten Feet Away

9. That Stuff

10. Homecoming '63

11. Quittin' Time

12. Hard Livin'

13. Nobody In His Right Mind Would've Left Her

14. It's All Coming Back To Me Now

15. Lucky Dog

16. Would These Arms Be In Your Way

17. Some Old Side Road

18. Don't Close Your Eyes

19. The Birmingham Turnaround

20. When You Say Nothing At All

x

Track List: Super Hits

1. Miami, My Amy

2. Ten Feet Away

3. I'm No Stranger to the Rain

4. Homecoming '63

5. It Ain't Nothin'

6. I Wonder Do You Think of Me

8. When You Say Nothing at All

9. Don't Close Your Eyes

10. Hard Livin'

x

Track List: A Tribute Album

1. Don't Close Your Eyes

2. Ten Feet Away

3. I'm Gonna Hurt Her On The Radio

4. I'm Over You

5. When You Say Nothing At All

6. Charlotte's In North Carolina

10. I'm No Stranger To The Rain

11. I Never Go Around Mirrors

12. The Comeback Kid

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Don't Close Your Eyes

2. I'm No Stranger To The Rain

3. Miami, My Amy

4. When You Say Nothing At All

5. It Ain't Nothin'

6. I'm Over You

7. I Wonder Do You Think Of Me

8. Ten Feet Away

9. Talk To Me Texas

11. Tell Lorrie I Love Her

x

Track List: I Wonder Do You Think Of Me

1. Talk To Me Texas

2. Between An Old Memory And Me

4. I'm Over You

5. Turn This Thing Around

6. Lady's Choice

7. Brother Jukebox

8. Tennessee Courage

10. I Wonder Do You Think Of Me

x

Track List: Don't Close Your Eyes

1. Flying Colors

2. It's All Coming Back To Me Now

3. Lucky Dog

4. Don't Close Your Eyes

5. The Birmingham Turnaround

6. Some Old Side Road

7. Would These Arms Be In Your Way

8. I'm No Stranger To The Rain

9. I Never Go Around Mirrors

10. When You Say Nothing At All

11. A Day In The Life Of A Fool

12. Honky Tonk Heart

Comments

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No one sings it even close as good as him
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#1 country
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One of the best songs ever
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tamez662
Loving this song
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Ibedamn
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Keith, ETC, Vern, The Possum...Boy ! ! ! country, music sure needs you now.
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squawvalley7 8
WOW WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SONG ...IT JERKS TEARS...
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lthresher27
Best KW song ever!
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One of the best! Is this Tracey Lawrence coving this song?
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he sings this song so beautifully! ! !
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Pink
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Didn't this song came from Allison Krauss?
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Sadly missed
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Love all his music
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I love that man. Passed away to young
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He was the best country singer too come the best he is playing f
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I woke to my alarm clock for school with the words 'keith whitley dead at the age of 34' being said, then music played and i was in such shock and disbelief i just couldnt accept what i thought i heard and anxious all day to get back home to find out if it was what i thought i heard. to the sadness of my heart it was true. All i could think was just like all of you. I always wished i was like him and sounded like him as a kid back then. what he felt and experienced in his own life as well as dea
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He died much to young. But than, God probable spared him a lot of heart ache here on earth. I am sure, he is using his talents in heaven.
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I miss him
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I cried the day he died. What a sad day for all, especially his family.
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Best song ever. So wonderful to hear his voice
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Kieth died too early. I remember listening to Kieth many, many hrs. I drove cross-countr y 40yrs@ listening to many a artist.
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DONT CLOSE YOUR EYES IS A BEAUTIFUL SONG!! HE DIED TO SOON. SAD ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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As a black city person, I am somewhat ashamed to have discovered
him about a week ago. The lost is minds. His music his awesome.
sorry i came in so late, RIP buddy.
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Did anyone see the tribute to this awesome singer on CMA this last week? Lorie Morgan was in the audience, It made me cry right away. I love his voice and always will. Never will be a voice like his.
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God must have needed his life experience and his wonderful voice to help out in Heaven...
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My all time was when you say nothing at all
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This song just making me wanna cry all the time
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jholder1976
Justin oo love
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I LOVE DONT CLOSE YOUR EYES ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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Hi
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maggiekksb
Mine are open probably won't sleep now.. just a heads up won't b here on Saturday. Late afternoon wedding and fl is here
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I think that Keith was great because he truly lived, sang and put his heart into every song he performed. I guess you have to live a hard life filled with booze, smoke filled nights and dance to capture life's reflective moments. When he performed, everytime his words reflected his heart and soul.
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I've a fool for holding on all this time...
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This songs is for my ex husband miss and still love you
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inspirationa l . . .
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I like his music all old country music and he is one of my favorites R.I.P Keith
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sg198080
Don't close your eyes...RIP Keith Whitley❤
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SO SAD HE DIED WAY TO YOUNG!! HE HAD A BEAUTIFUL VOICE!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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sandysorrell
Birmingham Turnaround.. . . . Keith nailed it! YouTube it.
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Man he had a bright future! Too many sad stories in music of all types with artists dying young!
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I really need to get off of here but they keep playing all these great songs if Keith would have lived he would have been maybe the greatest country singer of all time. hard to believe he has been gone so long makes me feel so old
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My favorite song by Keith ! I'm no stranger to the rain
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Gotta love Keith Whitley. Ain't nothin like him.
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Sensational Man I absolutely loved all of ur music,but "Don't Close Ur Eyes" was and always will b my very favorite! God n heaven has a very talented singer.
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Colt Ford @ the Tulare County Fair! Tulare CA, Check it out...Friday Sept. 16th, 2016 @ 8:00 pm. FREE CONCERT w/fair admission ($8) I can't wait to see him @ our country county fair...hope u all can spread the word & see you there hang'in round the beer booth!
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zosiriss1998 5 z x x i
@cathyrobins o n 7 3 8 Uhh nnooooo you should say Randy Travis sounds like Keith Whitley!
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rcapetil
Such a beautiful voice. Loved his music. Rest in Peace Sir.
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Wow! Beautiful��
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Could listen to him all day and the night too.
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