In 1986, country star Lorrie Morgan married American country singer Keith Whitley. With immense talent and country cred, Morgan and Whitley were a power couple. The couple had one son, Jesse Keith Whitley, in 1987, and Whitley adopted Morgan's daughter, Morgan Anastasia Gaddis, who was born during Lorrie's previous marriage to Ron Gaddis, a musician from George Jones' road band.
"She looked at him and said, 'Would you adopt me?' And he just started crying and he said, 'Honey, I would love to adopt you.'," Morgan told The Tennessean.
Morgan wrote about Whitley's battle with alcoholism in her 1997 autobiography Forever Yours, Faithfully: My Love Story, sharing that she'd sometimes tie their legs together to keep her husband from sneaking out to get a drink.
In 1989, Whitley tragically died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 33. Morgan would continue to keep the legacy and memory of her late husband alive. During a performance on Austin City Limits, Morgan performed Whitley's 1988 hit "Don't Close Your Eyes."
In 2019, Morgan and her family honored Whitley by hosting a concert at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, featuring Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Darryl Worley and more. The concert was held on the 30th anniversary of Whitley's death.
"We wanted to make the 30th anniversary a very special tribute to Keith," Morgan told The Tennessean. "We're just so excited about how many people are going to be here to honor Keith and sing his music."
Morgan was also present to commemorate Whitley's country legacy during the opening of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit Still Rings True: The Enduring Voice of Keith Whitley.
In 1991, Morgan married Brad Thompson, a former bus driver for Clint Black. After two years of marriage, the couple called it quits. In 1996, she married husband number four, country singer Jon Randall. Morgan and Randall divorced in 1999. Two years later Morgan married country singer Sammy Kershaw. The couple, who recorded the duets album I Finally Found Someone in 2001, split in 2007.
In 2010, Morgan married Tennessee businessman Randy White.
Her Country Legacy
Morgan is best known for her time on the country charts with hit singles in the late '80s and early '90s. Born Loretta Lynn Morgan, the daughter of George Morgan, it was clear from an early age that Lorrie was meant for the world of country music. The singer-songwriter made her first appearance on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry stage at the young age of 13 when she joined her father to perform his song "Paper Roses."
In the early '80s, Morgan toured the nightclub circuit and was an opening act for various musicians including Billy ThunderKloud & the Chieftones, Jeannie Seely, and Jack Greene. She was even a backing vocalist for George Jones. After a couple of record deals that resulted in decent singles, Morgan signed with RCA Records.
Morgan's first single with RCA, "Trainwreck of Emotion," debuted in 1988 and hit No. 20 on the Billboard country chart. Her first album, Leave the Light On, included multiple top 10 hits ("Dear Me," "Out of Your Shoes") as well as her first No. 1 song, "Five Minutes." She scored additional No. 1's with "What Part of No" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength."
With her classic songs of heartbreak, healing, and independence, Morgan continues to influence rising country artists.
Though the peak of her career and greatest hits were during the '90s, Morgan continues to release great music. Her latest album Come See Me and Come Lonely, a collaboration with Pam Tillis, was released in 2017.
Morgan's a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
This story previously ran on May 29, 2020.