Toby Keith, a country music legend who sold over 40 million albums and won numerous awards, died on February 5, 2024, at the age of 62. He had been battling stomach cancer for two years. His death shocked and saddened his fans, friends, and fellow musicians, who remembered him as a talented, passionate, and outspoken artist.
Country Music Legend Toby Keith Dies at 62
Toby Keith’s Career Highlights
Toby Keith was born on July 8, 1961, in Clinton, Oklahoma. He grew up listening to country music and learned to play guitar at a young age. He worked as a derrick hand in the oil fields before pursuing a music career in the late 1980s. He signed with Mercury Records in 1992 and released his debut album, Toby Keith, which spawned four hit singles, including “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
He went on to release 20 studio albums, six compilation albums, and two live albums, with 61 singles making the country charts. He had 20 number one hits, such as “How Do You Like Me Now?!”, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”, “Beer for My Horses”, and “As Good as I Once Was”. He also collaborated with other artists, such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Sting, and Jimmy Buffett.
He won several awards and honors for his music, including four Academy of Country Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Billboard Music Award. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
His Impact on Country Music
Toby Keith was one of the most influential and successful country music artists of his generation. He was known for his distinctive voice, catchy melodies, and witty lyrics. He blended traditional and modern elements of country music, creating a unique sound that appealed to a wide audience. He also experimented with different genres, such as rock, rap, and pop, showing his versatility and creativity.
He was also a leader and mentor in the country music industry, launching his own record label, Show Dog Nashville, in 2005, and signing and supporting new artists, such as Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, and Krystal Keith, his daughter. He also founded the Toby Keith Foundation, a charity that supports children with cancer and their families.
He influenced and inspired many other country music artists, such as Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Miranda Lambert, who praised him for his talent, charisma, and generosity.
Toby Keith’s Battle with Stomach Cancer
His Diagnosis in 2022
Toby Keith revealed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in January 2022, in an interview with People magazine. He said that he had been experiencing stomach pain and weight loss for several months, and that he had undergone surgery to remove part of his stomach. He also said that he was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and that he was optimistic about his recovery.
He thanked his fans for their support and prayers, and said that he was determined to continue making music and performing. He released his 21st studio album, Peso in My Pocket, in October 2022, and embarked on a nationwide tour, called the Country Comes to Town Tour, in November 2022.
Updates on His Health
Toby Keith gave occasional updates on his health and treatment, mostly through his social media accounts. He said that he was feeling good and that he was enjoying spending time with his family and friends. He also said that he was working on new songs and projects, and that he was looking forward to sharing them with his fans.
He performed his last concert on January 29, 2024, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, where he received a standing ovation from the crowd. He sang some of his biggest hits, as well as some of his new songs, and thanked his fans for their love and loyalty. He also paid tribute to his fellow country music stars who had passed away, such as Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, and Joe Diffie.
He died a week later, on February 5, 2024, at his home in Norman, Oklahoma, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Tricia, his three children, Krystal, Shelley, and Stelen, and his four grandchildren.
Controversies and Successes in Toby Keith’s Career
Toby Keith was known for his patriotic songs and views, especially after the September 11 attacks in 2001. He wrote and recorded “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”, a song that expressed his anger and support for the U.S. military. The song became a huge hit and a rallying anthem for many Americans, but also sparked controversy and criticism from some who found it too aggressive and jingoistic.
He also feuded with other celebrities, such as the Dixie Chicks, who criticized him for his song and his stance on the Iraq War. He responded by mocking them in his concerts and wearing a T-shirt that said “FUTK”, which stood for “Freedom, United, Toby, Keith”, but also implied a profanity directed at the Dixie Chicks.
He also clashed with Peter Jennings, the anchor of ABC News, who refused to let him perform his song at a Fourth of July special in 2002. He accused Jennings of being biased and unpatriotic, and said that he would never appear on ABC again.
Criticisms and Acclaim for His Music
Toby Keith also faced criticisms and acclaim for his music, both from critics and fans. Some critics accused him of being formulaic, simplistic, and sexist in his songs, while others praised him for being authentic, humorous, and relatable in his songs. Some fans loved him for his catchy tunes, fun lyrics, and energetic performances, while others disliked him for his political views, controversial statements, and arrogant attitude.
He also received mixed reviews for his ventures into other genres and media, such as his rap collaboration with Colt Ford, his pop duet with Sting, and his movie roles in Broken Bridges and Beer for My Horses. He said that he was not afraid to try new things and that he did not care what others thought of him, as long as he was happy and satisfied with his work.
Remembering Toby Keith’s Legacy and Contributions to Country Music
Toby Keith’s death was mourned by many people, especially in the country music community, who expressed their condolences and tributes on social media and in interviews. They praised him for his musical achievements, his personality, and his philanthropy, and said that he would be greatly missed and remembered.
Some of the messages from his fellow country music stars were:
- “Toby Keith was a giant in every sense of the word. He was a huge talent, a huge personality, and a huge friend. He was always there for me, and I will always be there for him. He was one of a kind, and I will never forget him. Rest in peace, brother.” – Blake Shelton
- “Toby Keith was a legend, a mentor, and a hero to me. He taught me so much about music, life, and patriotism. He was always kind, generous, and supportive to me and my family. He was a true American, and a true friend. I love you, Toby, and I will always honor your legacy.” – Jason Aldean
- “Toby Keith was an icon, an inspiration, and a friend to me. He was one of the first people who welcomed me into the country music family, and he always encouraged me to be myself and follow my dreams. He was a brilliant songwriter, a phenomenal performer, and a wonderful human being. I will miss him dearly, and I will always cherish the memories we shared.” – Miranda Lambert
Toby Keith was one of the biggest stars in country music history, who left behind a remarkable career, a loyal fan base, and a lasting impact on the genre and the culture. He was a talented, passionate, and outspoken artist, who was not afraid to express his opinions and emotions through his music. He was also a leader and mentor in the industry, who helped and supported many other artists. He was also a charitable and compassionate person, who cared about his community and his country.
He died at the age of 62, after a two-year battle with stomach cancer, leaving behind a loving family and a grieving world. He will be remembered as a country music legend, who gave us some of the most memorable and meaningful songs of our time. He will be missed, but never forgotten.