Reba McEntire is remembering her friend and colleague Toby Keith days after his sudden passing.
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“We’re going to miss him so much,” she told PEOPLE, “not only as a friend but a fellow performer and person in the music business and from Oklahoma.”
“But he doesn’t have to fight anymore,” Reba continued. “And he doesn’t have to hurt anymore. I hope one day to get to see him up in Heaven. Thank God we have his wonderful music to keep us company, even though he’s not here on earth with us.”
Toby Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October of 2021 and went public with the disease in following summer. At that same time, he announced that he was taking a career hiatus to focus on his health and family.
The country star was able to return for several performances before his death.
Reba McEntire and Toby Keith Toured Together in the ’90s
Reba McEntire and Toby Keith knew each other well. In 1995, they toured together with Rhett Atkins, and they had plenty of reunions over the years.
“That was a lot of fun,” she said of their tour. “Toby was more of the renegade, the outlaw type, and I’m the Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes, and so it was kind of like two ends of the spectrum.”
But she said they had one thing in common.
“I do love me a Solo cup,” she laughed.
Toby Keith left behind a legacy as a singer and songwriter. He had 20 chart-topping hits during his 30 years in the industry, most of which he penned himself, including Should’ve Been a Cowboy and Don’t Let the Old Man In. In 2015, he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, which was one of his proudest career moments.
“He was a great writer, a great singer. When Toby came on the radio, you knew who that was,” Reba added. “Toby Keith was a distinctive vocalist, a stylist, that you knew exactly who he was. So, that’s a wonderful trait to have.”
Toby Keith died with his family by his side on Feb. 5, 2024. He was 62.
This story’s featured images are by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images and Jason Kempin/Getty Images.
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