Monday, June 15, 2009

Class of 89 - Lorrie Morgan

In honor of the 20th anniversary of debut of Country Music Class of 89, I am writing a series of posts on each of the artists. I am including those artists who debuted in 1989 – Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I am also including artists – Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan – who had their first true commercial impact in 1989.

Today’s post will be on Lorrie Morgan.

Long before Shania Twain starting running around with a base midriff, Lorrie Morgan was a
country music babe. Lorrie Morgan played up her good looks more than most country female counterparts, and it helped her career take off.

Lorrie most brazen attempt to use her sex appeal was her video for “We Both Walk” where she spends a good deal of time playing her guitar with nothing on but a man’s dress shirt. Though the video would seem pretty tame by today’s standards at the time in country music world the video was seen as to risqué. Lorrie took heat for being to sexual.

Ironically in the mid to late 80’s Lorrie Morgan was not a candidate for such criticism. Lorrie was a child of traditional country music. Her father George Morgan had been a country star. As Lorrie Morgan struggled to get a footing on country radio in the e 80’s, she married raising country music star Keith Whitley. Morgan assumed the life of a proper daughter and wife. Then her relationship began to affect her life and career.

Keith Whitely drank to often, and by 1989 he had died of an overdose. Whitley’s death caused his widow Lorrie to see her profile rise. In 1989 she finally started scoring hits on country radio. Her 1989 album “Leave the Light On” caught the wave of success generated by the Country’s Music Class of 89. She rose to stardom with the debut single from her 1991 cd “Something in Red”. That single would be the aforementioned “We Both Walk” which rose to #3 and spawned a video that (as mentioned earlier) raised eyebrows.

Lorrie scored more hits and “Something in Red” sold 1 million copes as did its follow up “Watch Me”. Lorrie was developing a reputation as a platinum selling hit maker. Unfortunately she was also developing another reputation.

Being a good looking widow with money, Morgan attracted numerous male suitors. She dated then Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman; famously bringing him to the 1993 ACM Awards where she wore an “attention grabbing” dress. When that relationship ended she married Clint Black’s bus driver whom she quickly divorced. This was just the beginning.

Lorrie Morgan was getting to be known as a woman who could not keep a man, or was it no man could keep Lorrie Morgan. Fans of country music in 90’s expected their country stars to behave themselves. The old days of drinking, partying, marrying and divorcing were over. Artists were expected to marry, and live straight and narrow lives. Those that failed to do so paid by losing fans.

Bad enough her personal life was being brought into question, but in 1994 Lorrie hit a career slump. Her 1994 album “War Paint” failed to produce a top ten hit, and “War Paint” sold only 500,000 copies. Lorrie briefly rebounded with her 2 million selling “Greatest Hits” album, but it was a downhill slid from there.

1995 brought the arrival of Shania Twain a woman who seized the mantel of country babe from Lorrie Morgan and quickly set a new standard for how country music females should look, sound and behave. It was a standard Lorrie Morgan seemed unable to follow.

In 1997 Lorrie Morgan scored her last top 10 hit. By then she had become known for dating U.S. Senator and former actor Fred Thompson of Tennessee; for marrying and divorcing a younger male country singer named John Randall; and her stormy on and off again marriage and divorce from fellow country music star Sammy Kershaw.

In October 2008 news reports came out stating Lorrie Morgan had file for bankruptcy.

Lorrie Morgan had a solid run, but her personal life became bigger than her music and it cost her.

Personally I was never a big fan of her music. “We Both Walk” is my favorite Lorrie Morgan tune. She has a couple of other songs I don’t mind, but she never moved me in any way.

I could not find a video of “We Both Walk” on YouTube, but did find it on CMT’s site. You may have to watch a commercial first, but the video shows Lorrie Morgan as she was just about to become a star, and yes it show her playing her guitar in nothing but a man’s shirt.