Behind his success in music, Jackie Keith Whitley was struggling with his alcoholism. He admitted his problem in an interview, wherein he said, “It was a matter of life and death. If I hadn’t stopped drinking, I don’t think I’d be alive today. I did so many crazy things while drinking” (via AP News). Whitley said that he stopped drinking in 1987 after he got married to singer Lorrie Morgan. However, it seemed that he wasn’t able to remain sober, as he died from alcohol poisoning. According to reports, he was found dead after a weekend of drinking, per Taste of Country.
According to the autopsy performed on Whitley, he had an alcohol level of 0.47 grams in his bloodstream. Healthline states that having an alcohol concentration of 0.40 or higher may cause coma or death. The level Whitley had in his system was five times the intoxication limit in Tennessee at that time. The medical examiner said in his findings that Whitley died as a result of “drinking too much ethyl alcohol in too short a period of time.” In addition to alcohol, his urine test also came out positive for cocaine and benzodiazepines, which may have contributed to his death. His official cause of death was listed as acute ethanolism, according to Autopsy Files.