Country musician Toby Keith has died

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Toby Keith wrote country music classics such as “ Should’ve Been a Cowboy “, ” I Love This Bar ” And ” Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) “.

Toby Keith, who infused 1990s and 2000s country music with a dose of unapologetic patriotism and relentless arrogance in songs like “ Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) “, ” How Do You Like Me Now?! ” And ” Who’s Your Daddy? “, died Monday from stomach cancer. He was 62 years old.

Keith’s family confirmed the death on social media, writing that the musician ” died peacefully » and that he was “ surrounded by his family “. “ He fought his fight with grace and courage “, they wrote.

Keith revealed his illness in 2022, but was diagnosed a year earlier. In the months following the diagnosis, he underwent treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery) and reduced his concert schedule. During the summer of 2023, he returned to the stage for two concerts in bars in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. This fall, Keith gave his first televised performance since his diagnosis, singing “ Don’t Let the Old Man In », the story of mortality he wrote for the film The mule by Clint Eastwood in 2018, during the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards in Nashville. Keith performed his final concerts in December, including three nights in Las Vegas at Dolby Live at the Park at MGM.

On stage at the People’s Choice Country Awards, his voice was strong, but Toby Keith seemed thin. “ I bet you never thought you’d see me in skinny jeans “, he joked. It’s a stark contrast to the burly, rambunctious Toby Keith who made country music’s heyday in previous decades.

Toby Keith Covel was born on July 8, 1961 in Clinton, Oklahoma. After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and worked in the oil fields. “ At 18 it made me a man ” Keith told Dan Rather in 2018. Around the same time, he started playing music with his own band and played semi-pro football during a downturn in the oil market. Music quickly became his main interest, and his recordings caught the attention of recording industry executive Harold Shedd.

Shedd signed Keith to Mercury Records and released his self-titled debut album in 1993. Remarkably, the album’s first single, “ Should’ve Been a Cowboy “, reached number one on the Hot Country Songs chart Billboard. Keith, despite having one of the most powerful voices in country, prioritized songwriting: “ I wanted to be better at it and I wanted to write the best songs I could writehe told Billboard in 2018. So if I hadn’t gotten a record deal and had some success, I would have continued putting out songs. God forbid, if something happened to you and you couldn’t sing or perform anymore, you could still write songs. »

Unlike many of his peers, Keith wrote or co-wrote many of his own chart-topping hits: “ Who’s That Man “, ” How Do You Like Me Now “, ” You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This », his duet with Willie Nelson, « Beer for My Horses “, ” I Love This Bar “, ” American Soldier ” And ” Made in America ” are part of. In 2015, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and then into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021.

Yet, despite the poignancy of “ Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song) » and the intelligence of the self-deprecation of “ As Good As I Once Was ”, Keith could also be proudly cheeky. His most controversial song was “ Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) » in 2002, a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, in which Keith warned foreign enemies that the United States ” will put a boot in your ass/that’s the American way “.

Her detractors called her a chauvinist. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks) called the song ” ignorant » during an interview given in 2002 to Los Angeles Daily News, a remark that sparked a public feud between the two country music stars. A year later, when Maines spoke out against President George W. Bush and the United States’ invasion of Iraq on stage in the United Kingdom, Keith escalated the battle by posting a doctored image of Maines next to Saddam Hussein during his concerts. He later suggested to journalists that he regretted the quarrel.

It got pretty vicious sometimes, putting her with Saddam Hussein on screen. It was funny for a night or two, then it got a little excessive for medid he declare. I’m not that bad. »

If anything has hurt Keith’s standing in country music, it’s his refusal to immerse himself in Nashville politics. He didn’t choose that city as his home base and distanced himself from the industry by living in Oklahoma and rarely attending award shows. He won only three awards from the Country Music Association (the Nashville-based country music organization) and found more success with the then Los Angeles-centric Academy of Country Music, which crowned him “Entertainer of the Year” in 2003. In 2020, the ACM recognized Keith’s writing with an award named after his hero: the Merle Haggard Spirit Award.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.