Every Wednesday we take a trip down memory lane to highlight a classic country artist. This week we're featuring the late, great Keith Whitley.

Keith was born in Ashland, Kentucky and raised in nearby Sandy Hook.  His mother was the editor of a local newspaper and his father worked as an electrician.  Sandy Hook is in Elliot County and the Whitley family has resided there since the 1840's.

As a kid, Keith and his friends would pass the time drinking bootleg bourbon and then go racing their cars down mountain roads at high speeds.  Twice, he was in car accidents, one in which his friend was the driver and passed away and the other where he drove off a 120 ft. cliff and walked away with only a broken collar bone.

He was discovered in the late 1960's, along with Ricky Skaggs, by Ralph Stanley.  He put sometime in to developing his talent as a bluegrass artist but in 1983 he decided to make the move to Nashville to pursue a country music career.

He released his first album in 1984 and according to critics it was bad.  He took the next few years to really hone his skills and released his second album in 1986.  L.A. to Miami produced his first hit Miami, My Amy, as well as three others.  That album also included On The Other Hand (recorded and released by Randy Travis) and Nobody In His Right Mind Would've Left Her (recorded and released by George Strait.)  It was during this time that he met Lorrie Morgan and the two married in November of 1986.

He began working on his follow up release in 1987.  That album would produce hits such as Don't Close Your Eyes, I'm No Stranger To The Rain and When You Say Nothing At All.  After that, folks at the record label were looking for him to release some more upbeat music.

It's no secret that Keith had a drinking problem.  Lorrie admitted that she tried to hide it from him only to find he would drink things such as her perfume or nail polish remover. On May 9, 1989 he passed away from what was determined to be alcohol poisoning.

There is some controversy surrounding his death due to the fact that the pathologist who performed his autopsy has been on trial for forensic fraud.  Apparently they have found that he misdiagnosed several deceased patients cause of death and he no longer has a license.  With that being said, some believe Keith was the victim of some sort of foul play.

This is a news report from Georgia the day Keith died.

The Country Classic Flashback is brought to you by Midwest Machinery on East Highway 23 in Sauk Rapids with eight other locations in Central Minnesota.