One of the two things in the world that every human being is certain to experience is death. But regardless of the universal nature of this phenomenon, there are still peculiarities when it comes to the death of some people. One of the deaths that no one saw coming and seemed out of the ordinary was that of country singer Keith Whitley.
Whitley’s death was a mysterious event that not only rocked his family but the entire American country music scene. Here are facts about the life and times of the late musician.
Life and Career of the Legendary Musician
Before a man dies, he must have first lived. Whitley was born on the 1st of July, 1954 as Jackie Keith Whitley. While his birthplace is recorded as being in Ashland, Kentucky, he spent a huge chunk of his childhood in the nearby town of Sandy Hook where he attended high school.
Keith Whitley’s first stint in music came in 1969 when he partook in a music contest. It was at this contest that he met Ricky Skaggs, another musician who went on to be a part of his life for a very long time. The two collaborated together and it was during one of their performances that legendary musician Ralph Stanley spotted Whitley.
The pair were performing at Fort Gay in West Virginia for a crowd who was waiting for The Clinch Boys. Upon arriving and hearing both of them, Ralph Stanley decided to allow Whitley and Skaggs to join his band where Whitley served as the lead singer of the group.
Keith Whitley’s fame grew immensely afterward and he garnered many fans who adored both his personality and singing ability. In that time, he was able to carve a niche for himself and slowly rise to be a canonical member of the bluegrass sub-genre of country music.
In the 1980s, Whitley moved to Nashville where he signed a record label with RCA Records. In 1984, he released his debut album A Hard Act to Follow. He has since then gone ahead to release five more albums; L.A. to Miami in 1985 and Don’t Close Your Eyes in 1988.
1989’s I Wonder Do You Think of Me, 1995’s Wherever You Are Tonight, and 2000’s Sad Songs & Waltzes were all released posthumously.
Facts about Keith Whitley’s Family
Keith Whitley was one of the four children of his parents; Elmer and Faye. He had one sister named Mary and two brothers named Randy and Dwight.
In 1985, after just launching his solo musical career, Whitley met county singer Lorrie Morgan while he was on tour to promote the album L.A to Miami. Morgan at the time was also a rising country music star. The two kicked things off and began a romantic relationship that culminated in them getting married in November 1986. A year after exchanging wedding vows, they welcomed their child Jesse Keith to the world. Whitley further adopted Morgan, his wife’s daughter from her previous marriage.
The Truth Behind His Death
Keith Whitley died on the 9th of May 1989. When the fateful day started, he made a brief call to his mother and then had coffee with Lane Palmer, his wife’s brother who he had planned to have lunch and play golf with later on in the day. When Palmer returned to the house, he met an unconscious Whitley and called an ambulance. The musician was quickly rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
An autopsy that was carried out on Whitley showed that he had died of alcohol poisoning. The musician had always struggled with alcohol addiction and on that fateful day, he lost his battle with the vice.
Keith Whitley was aged thirty-four when he died and he was laid to rest at the Spring Hill Cemetery on the outskirts of Nashville.
Theories, Facts & Rumors That Followed Keith Whitley’s Death
After Keith Whitley had died, there were numerous rumors surrounding the cause of his death. One of these rumors was that he had gone for a rave the night before where he had taken so much alcohol, however, there was no evidence to back this up.
Another rumor that was rampant was that he had committed suicide, but this was quickly expelled when the autopsy report came to be known by the public. Another rumor that the autopsy report quickly expelled was that the cause of his death was due to a drug overdose.