Though he was gone way too soon, his incredible music left a huge mark on the industry, and there will never be another one like him. Some even argue that hadn’t he passed away so young, we’d be talking about him as the King of Country Music, and not George Strait.
And on this date in 1988, he released the last album of his lifetime, Don’t Close Your Eyes, via RCA Records. It was only his second studio album, the follow up to his 1985 debut album L.A. to Miami.
His estate did posthumously release a third studio album, I Wonder Do You Think of Me, in August of 1989, just three short months after his tragic death from alcohol poisoning at the young age of 33 years old.
Don’t Close Your Eyes produced three consecutive #1 hits, including the title track, “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain.” Because of all the hits it produced, it became a mainstream and commercial success and was eventually certified gold by RIAA.
He had originally worked on the album with producer Blake Mevis, but upon completion, Keith wasn’t happy with the production as a whole and convinced the label to essentially scrap it and start over.
He called in producer Garth Fundis to help him rerecord and turn it into the album we all know and love still today, but Blake is still credited as the producer on two tracks, “Some Old Side Road” and “Would These Arms Be in Your Way.”
It’s a timeless masterpiece of country greatness, and a one of a kind collection of music that showcased what a truly spectacular artist he was.
Here’s to the late, great Keith Whitley… turn these up loud today: