Mindy McCready -– the striking blonde country artist whose turbulent life echoed the lyrics of many of the songs she sang -– died Sunday afternoon of an apparent suicide at the age of 37. The Cleburne County (Ark.) Sheriff’s Office stated that officers were dispatched to the singer’s home in Heber Springs after neighbors heard gunshots. TMZ reports that McCready shot her dog before turning the gun on herself.
The sheriff’s office released the following statementon Sunday evening:
Mindy McCready: 1975-2013
“At 3:31 PM, Sunday, February 17th Deputies from the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a report of gun shots fired in the area of 1132 Fox Chase Drive in Heber Springs. Officers arrived on the scene at 3:58 PM and discovered the body of 37 year old Melinda Gayle McCready on the front porch of the residence at 1132 Fox Chase. Ms. McCready was pronounced dead at the scene from what appears to be a single self-inflicted gunshot wound. At this time family members have been notified of the incident. Ms. Mcready will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy and the matter will be fully investigated.”
Born Malinda Gayle McCready on November 30, 1975 in Fort Myers, Fl, she began performing at an early age. Like many of her contemporaries, her first musical experiences came in her local church. She decided to make music a priority, graduating high school early so she could pursue her career.
By the age of 18, the singer had landed in Nashville and inked a recording deal with BNA Records. Her first release for the label, “Ten Thousand Angels,” made a huge impact for the singer – peaking at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country songs chart in the spring of 1996. Her debut album — of the same title — performed very well, selling over 1.2 million copies according to Nielsen SoundScan, and spawning the follow-up successes of hits such as “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What A Girl’s Gotta Do,” “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now,” and the chart-topping “Guys Do It All The Time,” which became her only Hot Country Songs No. 1, also in 1996.
However, her follow-up recordings weren’t quite as successful. Her second disc, “If I Don’t Stay The Night,” while certified gold, only netted a pair of top-40 singles, with the biggest being 1998’s “You’ll Never Know,” which peaked at No. 19.
By this point, the singer was in the news for her personal life as much as her music. She had high-profile romances with NHL player Drake Berehowsky and “Lois & Clark” star Dean Cain, to whom she became engaged in 1997. However, the couple never made it to the altar, breaking up the following year.
She released one more album for BNA, 1999’s “I’m Not So Tough,” before parting ways with the label after clashes with its chief, Joe Galante.
Though her success at radio had withered, she continued to make the news. A volatile relationship with songwriter Billy McKnight resulted in his arrest after an incident where he was accused of beating and choking the star. In 2005, there were at least two attempts of suicide by McCready before she gave birth to a son, Zander, in March 2006. In December 2008, McCready once again tried to take her own life. Paramedics took her to the hospital after finding wounds to her wrists.
Still, McCready tried to fight her demons and rekindle her career. However, a self-titled album on Capitol Records failed to yield any hits, and she appeared on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2010, and was up front about her struggles.
Legal troubles also plagued McCready as well. In 2004, the singer was arrested in Nashville for obtaining a fake prescription for the painkiller OxyContin, and the next year saw charges for DUI and identity theft. In July 2007, she was charged with battery after a scuffle with her mother.
Her romantic life once again made news in 2008. In April, the New York Daily News reported that McCready had been in a long-term relationship with MLB star Roger Clemens. The report stated that the two had been involved since 1991 –- when she was just sixteen. Though he denied the affair was sexual, she told Inside Edition that their relationship had lasted for more than a decade.
In spite of her personal drama, the singer never gave up her dreams of returning to the musical spotlight. “I’m Still Here,” her first album in eight years, netted some of the best reviews of her career in the spring of 2010.
She became involved with record producer David Wilson around this time as well, giving birth to a son, Zayne in April of 2012.
Wilson was found dead in his home on January 13 of this year, with an investigation still pending. McCready released a statement referring to Wilson as her “soulmate” and “life partner.”
She had been at work on a memoir and posted excerpts and an overview on her official fan site, with the most recent entry posted last June.
The most recent post on her Twitter page, from January 19 of last year, reads: “Things have been hectic. But I’m still here..”