Mindy McCready was found dead Sunday (Feb. 17) in Heber Springs, Ark., of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 37.
According to a statement issued by the Cleburne County sheriff’s department, authorities received a report at 3:31 p.m. of gunshots fired in the vicinity of McCready’s home. When officers arrived on the scene at 3:58 p.m., they discovered her body on the porch. She was pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The singer, best known for her No. 1 hit “Guys Do It All the Time,” previously attempted suicide in 2005. She had battled personal and legal problems for many years.
Her death came just weeks after the Jan. 13 shooting death of her boyfriend, record producer David Wilson, at the home they shared in Heber Springs, Ark. He is the father of McCready’s 9-month-old son Zayne. Authorities are still trying to determine if Wilson shot himself.
Although McCready had not been named as a suspect in the case, in an interview that aired Jan. 29 on NBC News, she denied shooting him.
McCready’s other child, 6-year-old Zander, and Zayne were later removed from her home and placed into foster care by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Zander’s father, Billy McKnight, also filed court petitions requesting that Zander be returned to his custody in Florida.
On Jan. 30, a judge ordered McCready to be committed to a treatment facility to deal with mental health and alcohol issues. However, after undergoing a series of tests, she was released from the facility the following day and allowed to enter into an outpatient program.
Born Malinda Gayle McCready in Fort Myers, Fla., on Nov. 30, 1976, McCready began singing in church at the age of 3. Determined to have a career in country music, she took years of voice lessons and regularly went to summer school in order to graduate at 16, which she did. She polished her vocal style by singing at local karaoke bars.
When she moved to Nashville in 1994 — after promising her mother she would enroll in college if she didn’t win a recording contract within a year — McCready had only her karaoke tapes and can-do personality to recommend her. But that was enough. She met fabled producer Norro Wilson who, in turn, introduced her to fellow producer David Malloy. With Malloy as her mentor, advocate and boyfriend, McCready signed a deal with BNA Records (a division of RCA) only a week short of the year she had allotted herself.
McCready and her label made the most of her extraordinary good looks with sexy, navel-baring photos and videos. She soon earned a reputation for being more frank, outspoken and capricious than was common for budding country stars. Her first single, “Ten Thousand Angels,” hit the charts in February 1996 and eventually climbed to the No. 6 spot.
But McCready’s real breakthrough came later that year when her sassy, feminist “Guys Do It All the Time” rocketed to No. 1. Both these songs, plus the two singles that followed it, were from the album Ten Thousand Angels. It reached platinum status in December 1996 and ultimately achieved double platinum.
“Guys Do It All the Time” and Ten Thousand Angels were McCready’s recording high points. She never had another No. 1 single (and only one more Top 5). Of her three followup albums — If I Don’t Stay the Night and I’m Not So Tough on BNA and Mindy McCready on Capitol — only the first shipped enough copies to be certified gold..
In 1997, McCready became engaged to actor Dean Cain, who had been playing the lead role in the TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The engagement ended the next year.
In 1998, McCready was featured in a British documentary called Naked Nashville. The imperious attitude she displayed in the film toward her label head, the powerful Joe Galante, is cited as one of the major reasons BNA Records dropped her.
An Associated Press commentary described the McCready-Galante clash thusly: “As the camera rolls, Galante nearly loses his composure when McCready fails to turn up for a media luncheon. He’s particularly perturbed by the influence of her then-boyfriend, actor Dean Cain. … McCready, a striking blonde, insists she knows better than Galante what’s best for her career. At one point she says, ‘His age group isn’t buying country music. Mine is.’ Galante responds, ‘At 21, we all know best.’”
Capitol Records signed McCready in 2000 and even published a lavish 2001 calendar of her full-color photos. In one, she appeared to be nude. Her first single for Capitol, “Scream,” was equally revealing. It went only to No. 46, and her second and final single for the label, “Maybe, Maybe Not,” which charted in February 2002, peaked at No. 49. It was her last chart appearance.
McCready’s legal troubles began in August 2004 when she was arrested for fraudulently procuring a prescription painkiller. In May 2005, she was charged with driving under the influence but convicted only of driving with a suspended license. Later that same month, her former boyfriend, Billy McKnight, was arrested for attempted murder after beating and choking McCready.
In July 2005, the singer was arrested in Arizona on multiple charges, including identity theft, unlawful use of transportation and unlawful imprisonment. That month, she also apparently attempted suicide in Florida by taking an overdose of alcohol and drugs. The following month, she was arrested for violating her probation and, in September, she once more tried to take her own life.
McCready gave birth to Zander Ryan McCready on March 6, 2006. She fell afoul of the law again on July 21, 2007, when she was arrested for battery and resisting arrest. When she returned to Nashville less than a week later, she was arrested for violating the terms of her probation.
In April 2008, The New York Daily News reported that McCready had started a long-term affair with baseball star Roger Clemens when she was 15 years old, an assertion McCready later confirmed. She was arrested again for probation violation in June 2008. The next month she was treated at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville for an unspecified illness, after which she checked herself into a rehabilitation center, the nature and location of which were not disclosed.
In 2010, she appeared on the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.