Keith Whitley - Remembered 20 years later

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He died 20 years ago yesterday.

Keith Whitley was a longtime alcoholic, who had begun drinking early in his career at Bluegrass gigs -- long before he was even legally allowed to drink alcohol. Many times he had tried to overcome his alcoholism, but those methods had failed. Whitley preferred to drink alone, making it difficult for anyone to detect that he had an alcohol problem. According to Lorrie Morgan, she tried to hide all alcohol from him (even going as far as tying their legs together before going to bed, and with them tied even going to the bathroom together, so that Whitley couldn't wake up in the middle of the night to consume an alcoholic drink without Morgan knowing it), only to find out he would drink things such as perfume and nail polish to get drunk.

Whitley had lost both, his father Elmer, and his brother Randy (1983 motorcycle accident), in the five years preceding his death.

On the morning of May 9, 1989, after a weekend of drinking and partying with friends, Whitley woke up and spoke with his mother, Faye, briefly on the phone. He was visited by his brother-in-law, Lane Palmer, and the two had coffee and planned a day of golf, after which, Keith had planned to start writing songs for him and Lorrie to possibly record when she returned from her tour. His brother-in-law departed at approximately 8:30 a.m., telling Keith to be ready within an hour. Upon returning, Whitley was found face down on his bed, fully clothed.

The cause of death was acute ethanolism (alcohol poisoning), and Davidson County medical examiner Charles Harlan stated that his blood alcohol level was .477 (almost five times over the then Tennessee level of 0.1 legal intoxication limit, and nearly six times over the current .08 legal limit to drive), and contained ethyl alcohol. Whitley was 34 years old (although many sources say he was 33).

When you say nothing at all

Don't close your eyes

'Til A Tear Becomes A Rose w/ wife Lorrie Morgan

Miami, my Ami

I'm over you

Tell Lorrie I love her - the only version of this in existence is this demo

I'm no stranger to the rain

I never go around mirrors w/ Alan Frizzell

I've Done Everything Hank Did But Die

I Wonder, Do you Think of Me?

Ten feet away

Brotherly Love w/Earl Thomas Conley

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Local News Coverage/Footage of Keith Whitley's Funeral, 1989

Lorrie interviewed about Keith posthumously

Keith Whitley's Death Reported on Radio


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A voice still rings true

This video features many stars such as John Anderson, Earl Thomas Conley, Steve Wariner, Joe Diffie, Tanya Tucker, Ricky Skaggs, Sawyer Brown and many more

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Now that is a Whitley retrospective :thumbsup:

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I will sing "Don't Close Your Eyes" this week at BuckWild Saloon in Nashville.

Would you know my friend Rob Royer by any chance, Jim? He has written a number of country hits - he was in the band Bread

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