Keith Whitley Tribute Concert: Garth Brooks, Mark Chesnutt to Sing - Rolling Stone
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Garth Brooks, Mark Chesnutt to Sing at All-Star Keith Whitley Tribute Concert

Country Music Hall of Fame will host event on 30th anniversary of singer’s untimely death

Keith Whitley tribute concertKeith Whitley tribute concert

Keith Whitley's music will be celebrated by Garth Brooks, Mark Chesnutt and others on the 30th anniversary of his untimely death.

Waring Abbott/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One of the most influential country and bluegrass singers of his generation, Keith Whitley will be remembered on the 30th anniversary of his untimely death with an all-star concert featuring Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie and more.

Set for May 9th at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater, the memorial tribute concert will be hosted by Whitley’s widow Lorrie Morgan and their son Jesse Keith Whitley, who will also perform. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 29th, at 10 a.m. CST at

Additional artists appearing at the event include Tom Buller, Larry Cordle, Caleb Daugherty, Kevin Denney, Wesley Dennis, Corey Farlow, Carl Jackson, Cory and Dustin Keefe, Mark Wills and Darryl Worley.

A native of Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Whitley was a child prodigy who was appearing on TV in Charleston, West Virginia, with his brother Dwight at age eight. As a teenager he befriended another gifted young musician, Ricky Skaggs, with whom he formed a band called the East Kentucky Mountain Boys. The two would soon become members of Ralph Stanley’s powerful bluegrass band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. Whitley, as attuned to the classic country of hard-living legends George Jones and Lefty Frizzell as he was to bluegrass, moved to Nashville in 1983 and signed to RCA Records, riding the wave of neo-traditional country acts that would flourish in the next few years. Sadly, Whitley succumbed to alcohol poisoning at just 33 years old. The singer was at the top of his professional game at the time, having logged three consecutive Number One singles: “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” prior to his death. Another two chart-toppers, “ I Wonder Do You Think of Me” and “It Ain’t Nothin’,” would follow.

Coinciding with the tribute concert, on May 3rd, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil an exhibit chronicling Whitley’s short but significant career.


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