Keith Whitley was born country and he died country. At the age of four, Whitley brought home first place awards singing in talent shows. By age eight he'd picked up a guitar. Most impressively, at age thirteen, Whitley and a young Ricky Skaggs formed a Bluegrass band; they joined Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys soon after. Whitley played with that group and other country and Bluegrass musicians until he cut three records with the New South in 1978. He landed a deal with RCA records four years later and released his solo debut, A Hard Act To Follow, which featured Honky-Tonk songs with slivers of rock. Today, the album is considered an integral part of the New Traditional family tree. Behind the varied production on every one of his recordings reveals a man with a soulful voice and a strong love for country music. Whitley continued to make commercially produced albums that he was generally unhappy with, battling alcoholism concurrently. His battle ended May 9, 1989, when he died from acute alcohol poisoning.