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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: 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

10. 'Til A Tear Becomes A Rose

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

Report as inappropriate
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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Say your name twice
Punch your left hand
Tell your crushes name 3 times
Post on two different songs
You will have a boyfriend in the next week
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Could listen to him all day and the night too.
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debyz719
He had a presence as well as voice when seen on t.v. Never got to see him live, but I know that would have been a truly awesome concert. A real loss for us loving Country..... . . .
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sandysorrell
Fabulous voice!! WOW! Love it!
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Keith was the best country singer in the 70s and 80s to bad country ended in 2000 real country music was in 70s and 80s
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I love this song. One of the best. To bad he died like he did.
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Love this song by Keith. He has a beautiful voice.
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dolly parton still does rock this song the best.
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TO BAD WE COULDN'T OF HEARD HIM& ALLISON KRAUSE SING THIS TOGETHER, JUST IMAGINE How'd THAT SOUND? :):):): NO MATTER WHO SINGS THIS SONG, AWESOME, ITS THE WORDS:)
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Whitley was a great one, maybe the best. But now he's the poster child against booze. What a shame to die so young.
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pain brings problems like alcohol
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ronnie59harr
one of the best !
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Don't read this or u will be kissed by the love of your life on the nearest Friday
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another one that is Pure Whitley is Between an old memory and me......
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IF YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD HIS REMAKE OF I NEVER GO AROUND MIRRORS. IT'S PURE KEITH WHITLEY. ONE OF THE BEST VOCALIST COUNTRY MUSIC HAS EVER HAD. 34 IS TO YOUNG.
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Best Keith song ever
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Love this man
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I absolutely Love this beautiful song
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tdcg
I u kikk7 I'll 8llllk
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such a great voice
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You are right hwelk81! He was a wonderful person and friend. Everyone should visit the Keith Whitney museum and see one of his actual awards at the historical society, both in his hometown... Sandy Hook, Ky! So proud of our hometown boy! His brother Dwight and nephew Mike Whitley are great singer/songw r i t e r s too!
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Lorrie morgan was the death to him
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Could listen to this song over and over!!
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This is one of my favorites by Keith if the favorite!!
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fernandogome z 3 8 f g
Till each tear u cry becomes a rose
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Curtis Whaley. Aboery. Yes. Meetlnthe.
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Quite talented...
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Love this !!!
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Sounds like randy travis
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So sad he left us early in life. Love his voice and hearing him sing. I believe he would have given them all in country music a fantastic run for being at the top of the charts and stay there for long time. This is True Country music. Today's is country rock. Love this song Til A Tear Becomes A Rose and anything else he sings...
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fernandogome z 3 8 f g
True country not like today
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This reminds me of my ant that not with any more this song is for her
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velmagz
Now this is a song.
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One of the greats!!!
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True lyrics love this song!!!thank s PANDORA
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He sang I'm no stranger to the rain, about my life
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Hello I love the music of you
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samnlou
gone way too soon . great music from awesome artist
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Cant get enouh of his music. Dearly missed.
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Hold me tight when you love me tonight and don't close your eyes.
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lane.weikle
R.i.p
Your music runs deep in our hearts.
Love this song❤️
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God bless you Mr. Whitley your The man
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Love them all
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Jesus in t h I s
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He was a damn good bluegrass picker too before he became a solo artist
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love this song
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love this song
Show more

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