Her life was like a country music song, punctuated by tragedies, bad relationships and struggles with addiction. But Mindy McCready was not to have her redemptive final verse. The troubled singer committed suicide on Sunday at the age of 37.
She was found dead on the porch of her home in Arkansas, from what Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office said was a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Just one month previously, on 13 January, police had been called to the house in Heber Springs, west of Memphis, where they discovered the body of McCready’s boyfriend, record producer David Wilson. He too appeared to have shot himself on the porch. The couple leave behind their 10-month-old son, Zayne, and six-year-old Zander, McCready’s son from a previous relationship. Both children were in foster care when she died.
McCready was born in Fort Myers, Florida, but moved to Nashville aged 18, where she circulated copies of her karaoke recordings and swiftly secured a record deal. Her debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, sold two million copies following its release in 1996. It included the single “Guys Do It All The Time”, which reached the top of the country music charts. But she would never achieve the same success again.
Last year, McCready wrote on her official website, “I haven’t had a hit in almost a decade. I’ve spent my fortune, tarnished my public view and made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. I’ve been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed and evicted. But I’m still here… I’m a fighter. I’m down, but I’ll never be out.”
In recent years, McCready’s music had made fewer headlines than her arrest record. In 2004, she pleaded guilty to obtaining the addictive prescription painkiller OxyContin fraudulently at a pharmacy, and was sentenced to three years’ probation, which she violated with her arrest for drunk driving.
In 2011 she took Zander from her mother Gayle Inge, the child’s legal guardian, and fled to Wilson’s home in Arkansas, where the authorities found her hiding with her son in a closet. She had also attempted suicide at least three times previously.
Her love life, too, was unsettled. She claimed to have had a lengthy affair with married baseball player Roger Clemens, which began when she was 15 and he was 28. In 1997, she announced her engagement to actor Dean Cain, but the couple separated a year later. In 2005, her then-boyfriend – and Zander’s father – Billy McKnight was charged with attempted murder after he beat and choked her. Despite her problems with drugs and alcohol, McCready claimed her only “true addiction” was to violent relationships. Yet in Wilson she believed she’d found her “soulmate”.
In 2010 she appeared on the TV reality series Celebrity Rehab, in which cameras followed her and other stars as they sought treatment for their addictions.
McCready was yesterday being mourned by the country music community. Singer Carrie Underwood wrote on Twitter: “I grew up listening to Mindy McCready… so sad for her family tonight.”