Remembering The Life And Work Of Toby Keith.

Toby Keith leaves a legacy spanning from his first hit in 1993 until his final performance in 2023.

Many of us woke up to a shock this morning. Legendary country music icon Toby Keith passed on last night after a long battle with stomach cancer. The singer was surrounded by loving family and had a peaceful transition, according to a post on X (Twitter).

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Toby Keith was born Toby Keith Covel but dropped his surname in favor of the shortened stage name. Born on July 8, 1961, he made a life in Oklahoma, working in the oil fields after high school. Then he tried a short stint in semi-professional football with the Oklahoma City Drillers. By the mid-1980s, his focus became music. He played in a band and made the local bar circuit before hitting his stride.

Toby Keith’s debut album with the Easy Money Band topped the charts in 1993 with Should’ve Been a Cowboy. The number one country song propelled him into the world of country music legends, but he never forgot his roots. He maintained his headquarters in his hometown. After a slow but successful career under Mercury Records, he really began to soar after the switch to the Dreamworks Records label.

Toby Keith performing “Don’t Let The Old Man In” at the People's Choice Icon Award in 2023.
Image from YouTube.

By 2011, Toby Keith had 20 Number One Billboard Country Hits. The list of his awards and honors includes Country Music Awards, multiple honors from the ACM, American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards, including the People’s Choice Icon Award in 2023, Billboard Music Awards, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International Awards.

The list of Toby’s hit songs is long, including classics such as “Red Solo Cup,” “Beer for My Horses (with Willie Nelson),” “As Good as I Once Was,” and “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American).” We can’t list them all here. You can check out his long list of albums on his website. Among his celebrations, Toby has had 32 number-one songs, sold 40 million albums, earned 42 top-ten hits, and people have streamed his music more than ten billion times.

In addition to being an amazing country artist, Toby Keith was a warrior. His fight with cancer began in October of 2021, and he has undergone chemo, radiation, and surgery during his battle. He announced his ongoing fight on his Instagram on June 12, 2022. Since then, he has made several live appearances. He continued stage performances with Las Vegas shows until December 2023. He described his journey as a rollercoaster, but He stayed on course. In an interview with People, he said, “Through COVID and cancer, the old devil’s been after me a little bit. I’ve got him by the horns right now, so instead of just sitting around and waiting, we’re gonna get the band back together.”

Toby Keith has been an advocate for those fighting cancer for a long time. He formed The Toby Keith Foundation in 2006 to assist children with pediatric cancer and their families. One of his other “soft spots” was our military. He has performed on 11 USO tours overseas and supported military members in 2003 with his hit, “American Soldier.” They don’t make them like Toby Keith anymore.

He will truly be missed.

Featured images from YouTube and Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Stagecoach.

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