NoD: Keith Whitley Tribute in Sandy Hook

Cemetery - Sandy Hook, Ky.
Keith Whitley Tribute - Sandy Hook, Ky.
ESPN's Pat Forde described Elliott County as having, despite all its problems, a "surplus of pride." The same can be said for so many hamlets, burgs, and counties throughout the Commonwealth. Despite the pride, few historic references are visible to the Elliott County visitor. One source of pride, however, is country music star Keith Whitley.

Born in Ashland in 1954, Whitley's Elliott County roots reached back to the 1840s. In 1969, Whitley became friends with Ricky Skaggs and the two were soon discovered Ralph Stanley and J.D. Crowe. By the 1980s, Whitley would release five consecutive #1 singles including When You Say Nothing at All and I'm No Stranger to the Rain.
But Whitley was also no stranger to the bottle. As a teen, he drank bootleg whiskey. Police reports indicate one accident involving his trying to take an Elliott County country curve at 120+ mph; in another wreck, he plunged his car down a 120 foot cliff into a frozen river. In 1989, however, Keith Whitley's struggle with alcoholism would end. He collapsed on his bed at the age of 33 with a BAC of .477. 

Although Keith Whitley is buried in Nashville's Spring Hill Cemetery, the Keith Whitley Memorial Association ensures that "his music lives on." It commissioned Montana sculptor Bill Rains to recreate Keith Whitley complete with his guitar and rockin' his awesome mullet; the sculpture has been displayed at the cemetery in Sandy Hook in a beautiful tribute to the country legend since 1999.

More pictures of the tribute can be found on my flickr account.