On, Keith Whitley

Keith Whitley was a truly interesting gentleman. Born in Kentucky, he began his life in music at a very young age, winning contests by the age of five and getting on local radio stations at thirteen. While he was still in high school he started a bluegrass band with his friend Ricky Skaggs, they called Lonesome Mountain Boys. The duo played only bluegrass and quickly made a local impact as they rose in popularity.


The boys played songs mainly after the Stanley Brothers, and when Ralph Stanley was looking to put a band back together, asked Whitley and Skaggs because of how impressed he was with their music. They became known as the Clinch Mountain Boys.

The group put out some great hits that rose to popularity and finally, Keith left the group in 1973 to pursue a solo career. He did mostly country with a few different bands, but returned to his roots for another two years, putting out another five albums!

After another two years with the band, Keith decided to go solo again after signing with RCA records. He put out a few albums with little return, until his hit single released in 1986, “Miami, My Amy.”

Miami, My Amy http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtFeS1lPpfo

Whitley died at the age of 34 in 1989. He had severe alcoholism and on May 9, 1989, he passed due to alcohol poisoning. But even in death, his sound still went on. Just before he died he released an album “I wonder do you Think of Me” and it had a couple singles that rose to the top. Whitley continues to inspire both bluegrass and country performers alike, and in that, he is truly immortal.

One thought on “On, Keith Whitley”

  1. Paul,

    I think you did a great job with your biography about Keith Whitley. I did my biography on Ricky Skaggs and I find that (aside from playing together) their stories have similarities. Skaggs also left Ralph Stanley to start a solo career, played mostly country music, and then had a return to bluegrass where he was and still is very successful. I had no idea that Keith Whitley had died so young. You did a great job telling his story!


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