Keith Whitley‘s widow, singer Lorrie Morgan, said she was struggling for the right words to include during her acceptance of his Country Music Hall of Fame medallion. She knew one thing, however.
“He would feel so undeserving,” Morgan shares, reinforcing a notion suggested earlier in the evening, that Whitley’s self-doubt was part of what led him to drink. Keith Whitley died at age 33 in 1989. His membership into the Country Music Hall of Fame is a reminder of his long influence during such a short career.
“That was the wonderful thing about Keith,” Morgan continues. “He was so one of us. He loved all these Hall of Fame members. He was such fans of everybody. The musicians — he loved the musicians, the songwriters.”
With her daughter from a previous marriage and her son with Whitley seated just in front of her, Morgan couldn’t keep the tears from flowing as she started to reflect on her late-husband’s fans.
“My whole family, we’ve all missed him together. All the fans who loved Keith and visited his gravesite all the time,” Morgan says, sniffling and dabbing her face with a tissue. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to do this. But I brought this just in case.”
“People loved him, and it’s because they wanted his music played that he’s remembered.”
Whitley was one of two performers inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday (Oct. 16) in Nashville. His old record label boss Joe Galante was also inducted, and Morgan indicated that her late husband may have been difficult at times.
“You could have never let him go,” she says. “Never. And you know that.”
Garth Brooks inducted Whitley and sang “Don’t Close Your Eyes” to pay tribute to him. Mickey Guyton performed Whitley’s song “When You Say Nothing at All,” and Ricky Skaggs led a version of “Tennessee Blues” to pay tribute to his days as a bluegrass player.
The heart of Morgan’s five-minute speech was her sharing the story of hearing her then-future husband on the radio for the first time. She was on her way to perform at the Grand Ole Opry when “Miami, My Amy” began and the deejay revealed that Whitley would be there, too.
“I floored my car. I said I am gonna get a chance to meet this man tonight,” Morgan says. “And I did. And he asked me out that night. And of course the rest is history.”
Galante, Whitley and Jerry Lee Lewis became the 147th, 148th and 149th members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
2022 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony
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