Country music often deals with the darker side of existence, but when death comes unexpectedly -- especially for a well-known and well-loved personality -- an artist's music often takes on even greater poignancy.

Chief among the thieves of our most beloved entertainers are the various forms of substance abuse and the need for -- and modes of -- frequent travel. No generation of country musician or country fan seems immune from the sad circumstances that tear us away from the stars we admire. But sometimes in death, the stars burn even brighter than they did in life.

The Boot remembers some of the most shocking deaths in country music in the photo gallery above, along with the sad stories behind the days their music died.