Mindy McCready's death: Remembering the high and low notes

Lee singer's life of highs, lows and 'organized chaos' ended by apparent self-inflicted gunshot

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 1997 file photo, country music singers Mindy McCready, left, LeAnn Rimes and Terri Clark joke around after a rehearsal for the American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. She was 37. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield, File)$RETURN$$RETURN$

Photo by Michael Caulfield

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 1997 file photo, country music singers Mindy McCready, left, LeAnn Rimes and Terri Clark joke around after a rehearsal for the American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. She was 37. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield, File)$RETURN$$RETURN$

A look at Mindy McCready’s high points and low points.

1975 (Nov. 30) — Malinda Gayle McCready was born in Fort Myers.

1992 — She graduated from high school with honors at 16.

1994 — She moved to Nashville at 18 to pursue a singing career.

1995 — She signed a contract with BNA records, beating a one-year deadline imposed by her mom to get a record deal or go to college.

1996 (April) — She released her debut album, “Ten Thousands Angels,” and the title song went to No. 6 on the Billboard charts. The follow-up song, “Guys Do It All the Time,” hit No. 1.

1997 — She became engaged to actor Dean Cain, who starred in “Superman” the TV series. The couple broke up the next year.

1997 (Nov.) — She released her second album, “If I Don’t Stay the Night.” The album, which featured singles, “You’ll Never Know,” “The Other Side of This Kiss” and “Let’s Talk About Love,” didn’t reach platinum sales.

1999 (Sept.) — McCready released third album, “I’m Not So Tough,” but not a single song reaches the Top 50, The record company cancels her contract after poor sales

2002 (March) — After signing with Capitol Records in 2001, she released her fourth album, self-titled “Mindy McCready.” The album bombed and Capitol dropped McCready later in the year.

2003 — She started dating country singer Billy McKnight.

2004 — McCready was charged with obtaining the painkiller OxyContin fraudulently at a pharmacy. She pleaded guilty and was placed on three years’ probation.

2005 (May) — She violated the probation after a drunken-driving arrest.

2005 (May) — Two days later, McKnight was accused of beating and choking McCready. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

2005 (July) -- McCready was hospitalized after being found unconscious in a hotel lobby in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. She told a judge it was a suicide attempt.

2005 (Sept.) — She overdosed on antidepressants and was hospitalized again.

2006 (March) — She gave birth to her son, Zander Ryan McCready. McKnight is the father.

2007 (July) She was accused of a drunken altercation with her mother and then with a Lee County deputy who was trying to arrest her. Two weeks later, she was arrested at the Nashville airport for violation of probation stemming from her 2004 arrest.

2007 (July) — Sentenced to one-year in jail for violation of probation. She served only six months.

2008 (April) Made headlines for reports of a prior relationship with baseball legend Roger Clemens. Published reports at the time said she met the pitcher at a Fort Myers karaoke bar when she was 15 and he was 28 and married. Clemens denied the relationship.

2008 (Dec.) — McCready attempted suicide at her Nashville home.

2009She was part of VH1’s TV show “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” and afterward declared herself clean from drugs. The show aired in January 2010.

2009 (Sept.) -- Served 30 days of a 60-day sentence in a Tennessee jail for violation of probation. She got out early for good behavior.

2010, (May) -- She was hospitalized briefly after police responded to an overdose call at a home in North Fort Myers, owned by her mother.

2010 — She released her fifth and final album, called “I’m Still Here.” It never reached higher than No. 71 on the Country Billboard charts. Also, an adult entertainment company released a sex tape involving McCready.

2011 (Nov.) She took Zander from his legal guardian, her mother Gayle Inge, and fled to Arkansas over what she said were child abuse fears. She was later found hiding in a home without permission.

2012 (April) She gave birth to her second son, Zayne. The father was music producer David Wilson.

2013 (Jan. 13) David Wilson, 34, was found dead on the porch of their home in Arkansas.

2013 (Feb. 17)McCready, 37, was found dead along with a dog on the porch of her home in Arkansas.

Mindy McCready’s life was a lot like a country song.

Amid great highs were great personal lows.

It all ended tragically Sunday afternoon when McCready was found dead at her Arkansas home with what appeared to be a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a news release from the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office. The Lee County native was 37 and left behind two young sons.

“It was just sad that someone who had a special gift couldn’t overcome her demons,” said “Super” Dave Logan, a former Cat Country radio host who met McCready many times over the years. “It wasn’t totally surprising, given the kind of life she led, but boy ... It’s just sad. It was such a waste of a life and talent.”

McCready battled drug addiction, appeared on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2010, had a couple of stints in jail, a drunken altercation with a Lee County deputy in which she lost custody of son, Zander, and several rocky relationships, including ones with baseball legend Roger Clemens and “Superman” actor Dean Cain.

McCready had attempted suicide at least three times since 2005 as she struggled to cope amid a series of tumultuous public events that marked much of her adult life.

Speaking to the Associated Press in 2010, McCready smiled wryly while talking about the string of issues she had dealt with over the last half-decade.

“It is a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time,” she said of her life. “I call my life a beautiful mess and organized chaos. It’s just always been like that. My entire life things have been attracted to me and vice versa that turn into chaotic nightmares or I create the chaos myself. I think that’s really the life of a celebrity, of a big, huge, giant personality.”

Logan and others who remember McCready, who got her start singing in local bars, as sweet, talented and truly humbled by the support of her hometown.

“She was always professional, always on time, she would always stay late so someone could get an autograph,” Logan said. “She so appreciated that people liked her stuff, liked her music.”

Growing up in North Fort Myers, McCready took seven years of private vocal lessons and later sang in karaoke bars. One of those was the Songbird Karaoke Emporium in Fort Myers. Former owner Nettie Linder said McCready influenced many other young singers in Southwest Florida.

“They would look at her and think, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’ And that’s what she told people. She told people it was hard work, but to just follow your heart and you’ll be fine,” Linder said. “When it came to inspiring younger singers, she was phenomenal. She was behind everybody when it came to following their dreams.”

It wasn’t just local girls she inspired. Country singer Carrie Underwood tweeted Sunday night, “I grew up listening to Mindy McCready ... So sad for her family tonight. Many prayers are going out to them.”

Todd Nixon, the program director and afternoon host on Cat Country 107.1, said the community always rooted for McCready.

“She made a big splash in the in the mid-1990s with songs such as ‘Ten Thousand Angels,’ ‘A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Gotta Do)’ and ‘Guys Do It All the Time.’ But eventually, her troubles became bigger than the music was,” he said.

Nixon said Cat Country fans have taken to the radio station’s Facebook page and have called in to express their sadness. “They are asking to hear more of her music today,” he said. “I expect in the next week we will hear more of her than we would normally.

Attempts to reach McCready’s father, Timothy, were unsuccessful Monday. The person who answered the phone at McCready’s mother’s house hung up the phone immediately.

On Monday, Clemens handed a written statement to reporters at the Houston Astros spring training facility in Kissimmee, where he is serving as a special instructor for the team.

“Yes, that is sad news. I had heard over time that she was trying to get peace and direction in her life. The few times that I had met her and her manager/agent they were extremely nice.”

In 2010, after a stint on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s “Celebrity Rehab 3” where she was treated for “love addiction,” she told the Associated Press she might have finally found love, referring to David Wilson, and the strength to get her life back on track.

McCready is the fifth celebrity to die since appearing on Pinsky’s show and the third from Season 3. Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and “Real World” participant Joey Kovar both died of overdoses.

Pinsky, who had no comment Sunday, called McCready an “angel” in the season finale and expressed hope she would continue to seek treatment in a later interview. McCready suffered a seizure in one of the show’s scarier moments.

McCready’s personal problems included a custody battle with her mother over one of her sons.

McCready took her older son, Zander, now 6, from her mother, who is Gayle Inge, and the boy’s legal guardian, in late 2011. She fled to Arkansas without permission over what she called child abuse fears. Authorities eventually found McCready hiding in a residence without permission and took the boy into custody.

She and Wilson had a son, Zayne, in April 2012. In January, Wilson was found dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the same porch where McCready killed herself. He was 34. No official cause of death has been released in Wilson’s death and there had been reports that McCready was being investigated for Wilson’s death.

For McCready, it was the most difficult moment in a life full of them. She issued a statement last month lamenting his death. And she called him her soul mate and a caregiver to her sons in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“I just keep telling myself that the more suffering that I go through, the greater character I’ll have,” she said, according to a transcript of the interview.

When asked if she shot Wilson, McCready said, “Oh, my God. No. Oh, my God. No. He was my life. We were each other’s life.”

Billy McKnight, McCready’s ex-boyfriend and the father of Zander, said the children remain in foster care. Arkansas Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy Webb could not confirm their whereabouts, citing agency rules.

McCready’s relationship with McKnight was one of the more difficult periods of her life. McKnight was arrested in 2005 on charges of attempted murder after authorities say he beat and choked her. And the two continued to struggle over their son with McKnight recently filing for custody in light of McCready’s latest sting in rehab.

“I met Mindy at 23 coming off a big record, and from knowing her as personal as I did back then, sometimes being famous can hurt you,” McKnight said in a phone interview Monday from Tampa. “I think she was too young. I think that she was having some personal issues in her life and her family anyway, and when she got famous ... she started mixing booze and pills and the negativity, it took the best of her.”

McCready’s Arkansas neighbors reported hearing two shots Sunday afternoon, then called the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities found Wilson’s dog dead next to McCready’s body at the home, where yellow crime-scene tape looped through a grove of pine trees and around the one-story brick house Monday afternoon.

McKnight revealed Monday that McCready was released from court-ordered drug rehabilitation program just a few days ago. He questioned why she only stayed in the substance abuse treatment center for about 18 hours before she was allowed to walk free.

“That was a big mistake on the part of whoever released her,” McKnight said. “She was in a terrible state of mind. She doesn’t perform any more. She wasn’t working. She has two kids and her fiance was just killed. There’s no way she should be out by herself in a lonely house with nothing but booze and pills. That was a really, really bad mistake, and the result is tragic.”

News Editor Tom Hanson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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