On November 13, 1990, Richie Shelton died when his girlfriend reportedly hit a school bus near Ada, the Oklahoma town where Blake was born and raised, The Oklahoman reported. Per the report, the accident happened around 7 a.m., when the sun prevented her from seeing the bus. She was critically injured but survived. In addition to Richie, who was 24, the accident also claimed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son’s life, per The Oklahoman.
Blake was 14 years old. “My brother was my big brother. I mean, I wanted to be him. I wanted to look like him, dress like him, listen to what he listened to, and be into the things he was into,” he told Cowboys & Indians. Some of Blake’s earliest music inspiration seeped right through from across the hallway, where Richie’s bedroom was. “He was listening to Hank Williams, Jr. or Waylon, Lynyrd Skynyrd or Bob Seeger. I just, whatever was popular really, Richie loved all music,” he told “60 Minutes” (via CBS News).
Understanding his brother died was a process. “I remember picking up the phone to call him a week after he was dead, to tell him something … it was like constantly a shock to me that he was dead,” he told CBS. Blake still misses Richies and frequently honors him on November 13. “Wow… 25 years ago today we lost my brother Richie Shelton. He’s still my hero going strong. Wish everyone could’ve known him,” he tweeted in 2015.