After a longstanding battle with stomach cancer, Toby Keith has died at the age of 62. Via a statement on his socials released this morning, his family confirmed the ‘Should've Been a Cowboy’ hitmaker had “passed peacefully last night on February 5th”.
The statement went on to pay tribute to how Keith had “fought his fight with grace and courage”, before asking fans and the media to “respect the privacy of his family at this time”.
Toby Keith had revealed his stomach cancer diagnosis in June 2022, with the Oklahoma singer-songwriter sharing, “I've spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery”.
Following his diagnosis, the country community rallied around Keith, with the ‘As Good As I Once Was’ songsmith making a slew of high-profile appearances over the past few years.
At the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards, for instance, Toby Keith took the stage to deliver a moving performance of his much-loved 2018 song, ‘Don't Let The Old Man In’.
The music video for the widely lauded reflection on ageing famously featured Hollywood star, Clint Eastwood, with Eastwood having supposedly inspired the wistful song during a chance meeting at a golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California.
Born in 1961, Toby Keith stormed onto the country scene in 1993 with the release of his hugely popular sophomore album, Should've Been A Cowboy. Keith's discography was pervaded by his sense of rural pride and a deep-seated respect for blue collar workers, as was epitomised on his 2003 hit single, ‘I Love This Bar’.
Toby Keith often cited his grandmother's nightclub in Fort Smith as the place where he gained much of his musical education, with Keith spending his later teen years as a derrick hand in the oil fields. The aspiring country singer started cutting his teeth in intimate Texas and Oklahoma venues, while remaining in the oil industry.
After deciding to focus on music and releasing Should've Been a Cowboy, Keith's status quickly grew, with the bearded crooner amassing 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Country Airplay chart throughout his career, including ‘How Do You Like Me Now?!’, ‘Beer For My Horses’ with Willie Nelson and ‘You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This’.
Toby Keith's patriotic anthem, ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)’, which drew inspiration from the death of his father and the 9/11 attacks of 2001, also hit No. 1 in 2002 and quickly became one of the artist's most widely known songs.
As well as performing at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards, Toby Keith was given the first ever Country Icon accolade by his good friend, Blake Shelton.
Toby Keith is survived by his wife, Tricia, and his three children.
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