The country music community is stunned today following the death of Mindy McCready, a troubled star who burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s, scoring a hit album before falling into a pattern of substance abuse-fueled scandals.
Like many country artists, McCready started her career singing in church before heading to Nashville as a teen to pursue her dream. It wasn't until she turned 20 that she struck gold when her very first single made its way onto the country charts and she quickly became a household name with her good looks and songs geared towards female empowerment.
Her first two singles, the poignant “Ten Thousand Angels” and tongue-in-cheek "Guys Do It All the Time" put her on the map. "Angels," the title track and name of her debut album released in 1996, made it to No. 6 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. That year she garnered her first and only No. 1 hit with "Guys Do It All the Time."
Though Ten Thousand Angels became an instant success, it was McCready's only Top 10 release. The album made it to No. 5 in 1996 and McCready wasn't back on the charts until over a decade later with "I'm Still Here" which landed at No. 71 in April of 2010.
Mindy McCready: 1975-2013
She released four more studio albums after "Angels," but never surpassed the success of her debut.
If I Don't Stay The Night – November 4, 1997
I'm Not So Tough – September 14, 1999
Mindy McCready – March 26, 2002
I'm Still Here – March 23, 2010
Despite what seemed like a career downward spiral, McCready has sold 1.8 million albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. She has also toured with Tim McGraw and George Strait.
A Controversial Star
No stranger to the tabloids, McCready found herself making headlines for a good part of the last decade.
In 1997 she was engaged to actor Dean Cain but a year later the couple split. Her next few relationships made the headlines, but not for the better. Years later an ex-boyfriend was arrested after he allegedly choked her. After stints in rehab, an overdose, multiple suicide attempts and jail time, McCready found herself pregnant with her first child in 2006.
In 2008 McCready was charged with falsifying her community service records stemming from probation, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Later that year she attempted suicide again by cutting her wrists.
In 2010, she made a splash in the news again when she revealed she had a decade-long affair with baseball player Roger Clemens. McCready claimed the affair began when she was 15-years-old while Clemens said the two were "close friends."
She also starred in "Mindy McCready, Baseball Mistress," which amounted to a homemade sex tape released by Vivid Entertainment. Her co-star was a man only identified as "Peter."
Upon the decision to clean up her life, she appeared on the third season of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2010 which showcased her struggle with addiction. In one episode, cameras captured McCready suffering a seizure as she was detoxing.
The next year McCready found herself pregnant again. Months after she was in the news for kidnapping her son who had been ordered to stay with her mother in Florida, she gave birth to her second son, Zayne. The father was her boyfriend, record producer David Wilson. While McCready spoke of how her son saved her life and gave her the will to live, tragedy continued to strike. Wilson was found dead just last month in his home of a possible suicide, though that has not been confirmed. McCready would face a similar fate just weeks later. On Sunday, McCready was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Despite her struggles, Mindy McCready's impact on the country music world remains. After news of her death circled on Twitter many artists shared their prayers and disbelief including Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott.
My heart is breaking hearing of the loss of Mindy McCready. Pray for her 2 precious little boys...may God's peace & protection be on them!
— Hillary Scott (@HillaryScottLA) February 18, 2013