(Editor’s note: CMT News Presents: Mindy McCready Fallen Angel , a one-hour news special documenting the singer’s life and career and examining the final days leading up to her tragic death, airs Sunday (March 10) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT..
Mindy McCready ’s brothers knew her better than anyone else and remember with her life with a combination of joy and sadness.
In their first media interview since her death, Timothy “TJ” McCready, 33, and Josh McCready, 32, shared their memories with CMT supervising producer Ray Sells as part of CMT News Presents: Mindy McCready Fallen Angel, a one-hour news special premiering Sunday (March 10). The special also includes archival CMT interviews, never-before-seen video footage and interviews with country artists Ty Herndon , Richie McDonald , Lorrie Morgan and Jimmy Wayne . The special also includes interviews with record producers David Malloy and Norro Wilson.
The 37-year-old singer died Sunday (Feb. 17) at her Arkansas home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a life of turmoil, including several suicide attempts, child custody battles and a history of substance abuse.
Her brothers moved from Florida to Nashville around the time she hit the Top 10 with her 1996 debut single, “Ten Thousand Angels,” and the No. 1 follow-up, “Guys Do It All the Time.” Barely out of her teens herself when she found major success, she nonetheless became the caretaker for her younger siblings.
Those early days in Nashville were good ones, TJ says.
“It was playtime for all of us,” he said. “She was just coming into a No. 1 single, and we were on the road with her. We had a nice house in Belle Meade for a little while, a nice house in Green Hills for a little while.
I’m sure if she were here, she would say otherwise, but Mindy always talked about raising us. We come from a broken home, and we’re all really close. I’d like to say we raised each other. She probably got us into more trouble than she ever kept us out of. That’s something I said at the funeral down in Florida, but it was probably pretty true.”
“It was absolutely true,” Josh added. “That was probably the least stressful time that any one of us ever endured in our entire life.”
Despite the responsibility of raising her brothers, McCready took things in stride and kept a sense of humor about the problems they faced.
“I was at school and got myself into a fist fight, and my principal took me into the principal’s office and calls Mindy on speakerphone,” Josh recalls. “The first words out of Mindy’s mouth are, ’Well, did he win?’ She wasn’t mad. She wasn’t angry. She didn’t get pissed at me. The only thing she could say was, ’Did he win the fight?'”
Initially, her brothers were not gravely concerned even when she attempted suicide.
“I don’t know if it was cries for help or if it was for attention,” Josh said. “I know that I was there for two of them … and they weren’t real. I mean, they were real and she did something stupid and ate too many prescription pills or something like that. But it was never anything that was ever to me really serious.
“You know, she was constantly trying to get her name back in the spotlight. She went from … reaching a level of fame and never being able to reach that level again. And I just feel like more of her issue was her trying to get back to where she was — to reestablish her career, to come back on top.”
McCready’s former bandleader, record producer Jimmy Nichols, spoke to her several days before her death and phoned TJ to express his concerns.
“He called to tell me about his sister who had committed suicide and how he felt about it and how he dealt with it and how it took a while but he accepted the fact that it wasn’t his fault and that he had done everything that he could have done to try and help her,” TJ said.
“I think everybody saw it coming,” he said of McCready’s death. “She had nowhere else to turn. And we saw that she was on bottom. You see it coming, but then when it gets there, it’s one of those things you never thought was coming. You just stepped off the edge of the cliff you didn’t know was there. … I’ve said for many years that the way she lived her life, you just couldn’t see her living on into an old age.”
“It wasn’t going to be a happy ending,” Josh said.
“She was fly by the seat of your pants, and it was all or nothing,” TJ said. “I wish anybody could have done more. That conversation I had with Jimmy, he called to tell me about his sister and him having to deal with that. And even having that conversation with him, I still never thought she’d actually do it.”