This past Sunday country music remembered one its greatest that left this world way too soon.
May 9th was the 32nd anniversary of the passing of Keith Whitley.
During the 1980s Keith had a string of hits including “I’m No Stranger To The Rain,” “When You Say Nothing At All,” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
Keith Whitley influenced many of today’s country music hit makers – including Chris Young.
Back in 2011 Chris had an opportunity to actually buy a guitar once owned by his musical hero. Chris shares, “They found this guitar that Keith actually owned and played, and it was one of the three guitars that he used on the road between ’84 and ’89, right before he died, when he was really having number-ones and having hits.”
He adds, it wasn’t just the guitar, “It’s so cool. It’s still got the original luggage tag on it with his signature.”
Chris Young is not usually tempted into making extravagant purchases, but he knew this was something that he could not pass up, “I don’t buy much stuff, but when that came by, I was like, ‘That’s one of a kind. I gotta have that.’ So…and I’m a huge Keith Whitley fan anyway, so for me, it means a lot to have it.”
It was the perfect find for Chris because the guitar was not in perfect condition — it was a piece of musical equipment that was used by Keith, Chris says, “It’s got all the dings and the scratches, but it’s in really, really great shape for being as old as it is. I mean, you think about…I think…I’m not exactly sure what year, but I think it’s early ’80s, so, I mean, just the fact that the guitar has held up this well and the case is in such great shape, and it’s actually the original case. And yeah, I geeked-out a little bit over that.”
Having the guitar in his possession, Chris Young knew the perfect spot to play it for the first time in public, “Keith Whitley has always been one of my musical heroes, so to get the chance to hold a piece of history in my hands and play his guitar on the Opry stage was beyond awesome.”
Since that day in October of 2011 on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Chris Young has not used Keith Whitley’s guitar in public.
While it’s still in his collection, and Chris will occasionally use it for inspiration — he jokes that it’s hard to write a song using a guitar that once belonged to his idol, “There’s pressure! Oh, trust me, there’s…’cause I’m gonna use it to write with, and I mean, you don’t want to come out of the gate and the first song you write on Keith Whitley’s old guitar is terrible.”
While Chris has racked up a bunch of number-one hits since 2011 – he admits that so far they have not been written on Keith’s guitar.
Chris is using his own guitar in the video for this one – check out “Famous Friends” – Chris’ current single at country radio with Kane Brown…
Headline Chris Young Photo Credit: Jeff Johnson
Keith Whitley Photo Credit: Jim Shea
Chris Young Performance Photos Credit: (c) 2011 Grand Ole Opry / Joel Dennis