Keith whitley

Keith Whitley - 2011 Inductee

Jackie Keith Whitley was born on July 1, 1954, in Sandy Hook, KY. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 6 and appeared on Buddy Starcher’s regional TV show at age 8. In 1969, Whitley entered a musical contest with his brother in Ezell, Kentucky, and there he met Ricky Skaggs; they were instantly great friends. Skaggs and Whitley were later discovered by Ralph Stanley while playing as an opening act for the Clinch Mountain Boys Band. Upon hearing them, Stanley hired them, and for two summers Whitley and Skaggs played for Stanley until Whitley left to work with Carl Jackson in 1972. Whitley came back to Stanley in 1974, this time as the lead vocalist.

Throughout the mid seventies, Whitley also performed with J.D. Crowe & The New South. His major influences were Carter Stanley and Lefty Frizzell. In the early 1980’s, Whitley moved to Nashville to pursue his country music career. Soon after, he signed with RCA Records. His first album with RCA, was titled “A Hard Act To Follow”. During the next four years, he was able to hone in on his own sound.

His next album, “L.A. to Miami”, was released in 1986, and gained him his first top 20 hit single, “Miami, My Amy”. There were three more hit singles from the “L.A. to Miami” album, “Ten Feet Away”, “Homecoming ‘63”, and “Hard Livin’”. While on tour to promote “L.A. to Miami”, Whitley met and fell in love with Lorrie Morgan. They were married in 1986, and in June 1987, their son Jessie Keith Whitley was born. Whitley also adopted Lorrie’s daughter Morgan from her first marriage.

In 1987, while in the middle of recording, Whitley felt that the songs he was recording were not up to his standard, so he asked to shelf the 15 songs. He then asked if he could be more involved with the songs and the production of them. His next album, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, was very well received when released in 1988. The title track as well as “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stanger To The Rain” charted at #1. “I’m No Stranger To The Rain” earned Whitley his first CMA award as a solo artist.

Whitley approached Sony Music Nashville Chairman Joe Galante and asked him to release “I Never Go Around Mirrors” as a radio single in 1989. Galante was fond of the flexibility that the song provided but suggested that Whitley record something else that was more modern and upbeat. So he recorded “I Wonder, Do You Think of Me”, which was his next album to be released.

On May 9, 1989, Keith Whitley’s voice was silenced; however his influence on the world of country music has long since survived. His last album, I Wonder Do You Think of Me produced two #1 hits. The title track and “It Ain’t Nothin’. Two new songs written by Whitley were added to a compilation album called “Greatest Hits”. Lorrie Morgan re-recorded “Til A Tear Becomes A Rose”, and released it as duet. It reached #13 and won the CMA for Best Vocal Collaboration in 1990.

RCA released a compilation of clips and interviews as well as some previously unreleased material titled “Kentucky Bluebird”. The duet with Earl Thomas Conley titled “Brotherly Love” rose to #2 in late 1991.In 1994, Morgan organized Whitley’s friends and big names in country music at the time and recorded a tribute album to Keith, selling over 500,000 copies.

Keith Whitley continues to impact the lives of many other country artists and fans alike. His honest and heartfelt music will forever be one of Kentucky’s greatest treasures.

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  1. Dale Ann Bradley - 2018 Inductee
  2. Billy Ray Cyrus - 2018 Inductee
  3. Jason Crabb - 2018 Inductee
  4. Jackie DeShannon - 2018 Inductee
  5. David "Stringbean" Akeman - 2018 Inductee
  6. Bobby Lewis - 2018 Inductee
  7. Exile - 2011 Inductees
  8. The Kentucky Headhunters - 2013 Inductees
  9. Jerry Chestnut - 2004 Inductee
  10. John Lee Lair - 2002 Inductee
  11. Red Foley - 2002 Inductee
  12. Coon Creek Girls - 2004 Inductees
  13. Ulys R "Red" Turner - Renfro Valley Performer
  14. Old Joe Clark - 2013 Inductee
  15. Merle Travis - 2002 Inductee
  16. Loretta Lynn - 2002 Inductee
  17. JD Crowe - 2004 Inductee
  18. Bradley Kincaid - 2002 Inductee
  19. Jean Ritchie - 2002 Inductee
  20. Tom T Hall - 2002 Inductee
  21. Pete Stamper - 2015 Inductee
  22. Steve Wariner - 2011 Inductee
  23. Bradley Kincaid - 2002 Inductee
  24. Bill Monroe - 2002 Inductee
  25. Dwight Yoakam - 2008 Inductee
  26. John Conlee - 2006 Inductee
  27. Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" - 2002 Inductee
  28. Keith Whitley - 2011 Inductee
  29. Ricky Skaggs - 2004 Inductee
  30. Brian Littrell & Kevin Richardson of The Backstreet Boys - 2015 Inductees
  31. Patty Loveless - 2011 Inductee
  32. Montgomery Genrty - 2015 Inductees
  33. John Michael Montgomery - 2011 Inductee
  34. The Judds - 2006 Inductees
  35. The Everly Brothers - 2002 Inductees
  36. Boots Randolph - 2004 Inductee
  37. Sam Bush - 2006 Inductee
  38. The Goins Brothers
  39. Crystal Gayle - 2008 Inductee
  40. Dottie Rambo - 2006 Inductee
  41. Florence Henderson - 2008 Inductee
  42. Steven Curtis Chapman - 2013 Inductee
  43. Doc Hopkins - 2015 Inductee
  44. The Osborne Brothers - 2002 Inductees
  45. Howard and Vestal Goodman - 2004 Inductees
  46. The Coon Creek Girls - 2004 Inductees
  47. Billy Vaughn - 2004 Inductee
  48. Todd Duncan - 2006 Inductee
  49. Mary Travers - 2006 Inductee
  50. John Jacob Niles - 2006 Inductee
  51. Norro Wilson - 2008 Inductee
  52. Les McCann - 2008 Inductee
  53. Molly O'Day - 2011 Inductee