WATCH: Keith Whitley Stuns Crowd in One of His Final Performances in 1989

by Charles Craighill
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In a rare United Kingdom performance from a country artist in the 20th century, Keith Whitley showed why country music spreads beyond just the United States. Today, country music does have a good bit of popularity in Europe and in the united kingdom. However, in the 20th century, country artists rarely made the trip across the pond for a European tour.

Keith Whitley only did so once. He also only played one song in the United Kingdom. In one of his final performances in his life, Whitley played his hit single “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” to a dazzled audience. Check out his historic performance below.

His backing band creates a very cohesive and soothing sound behind Keith Whitley’s passionate vocals and light guitar strums. His voice almost melts into the pedal steel guitar operating behind him while his guitar keeps in rhythm. The arrangement of his number one hit single was nothing short of breathtaking.

Around the two-minute and fifteen-second mark, the band moves into an instrumental solo section. First, the electric guitarist takes up a tasteful yet impressive solo that lasts only a couple of bars. The pedal steel picks up from there, giving beautiful bends and arpeggios that ring through the auditorium. As the pedal steel does its thing, the electric guitar along with Keith Whitley’s guitar strumming moves the band through the progression. All in all, the performance almost sounded identical to the studio recording.

Keith Whitley Dies at 34 Years Old

The UK performance of “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” at the 1989 International Festival Of Country Music At Wembley would be his first performance in the United Kingdom. However, it would unfortunately also be his last performance in the UK. In fact, it would be one of the last times Keith Whitley played a live show before his death in May of 1989.

Keith Whitley was undoubtedly a very talented country music singer and songwriter. However, he also had his own fair share of issues. His relationship with alcohol certainly marked one of those issues and became the one that ultimately got the better of him. His brother-in-law found him unconscious in his room due to alcohol poisoning on May 9, 1989. At the time, he has only released two studio albums. However, he had released several singles, some of which climbed the charts to the number one spot following his death.