Country music singer Toby Keith passed away at the age of 62.

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Toby Keith, a famous country singer known for his patriotic songs, has passed away at the age of 62. He wrote songs that stirred up both praise and criticism, but had millions of fans.

He died peacefully on Monday, surrounded by his family, after battling stomach cancer. He shared his diagnosis in 2022 and fought bravely.

Toby Keith is seen performing April 7, 2014 at ACM Presents an All-Star Salute to the Troops in Las Vegas.
Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Standing tall at 6-foot-4, Toby Keith became popular in the 1990s with songs like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” Throughout his career, he didn’t shy away from disagreements with other celebrities or the media. He also resisted pressure from record labels to change his style.

Toby Keith was famous for his strong patriotism, especially in songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” He also sang fun songs for bars like “I Love This Bar” and “Red Solo Cup.” He had a big, powerful voice and a sense of humor that showed in his music.

He had many hit songs, including “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “My List,” and “Beer for My Horses,” which he sang with Willie Nelson. His music was influenced by other hardworking songwriters like Merle Haggard. He had over 60 songs on the Hot Country chart.

Even while he was getting cancer treatments, Toby Keith kept performing. He played in Las Vegas in December and sang at the People’s Choice Country Awards in 2023 with his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

He once said, “Cancer is a roller coaster. You just sit here and wait on it to go away. It might never go away.”

Before becoming a singer, Toby Keith worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma and played semi-pro football.

“I write about life, and I sing about life, and I don’t overanalyze things,” Toby Keith said in 2001.

Keith learned valuable lessons while working in the busy oil fields. It toughened him up and taught him the importance of money.

He made a lot of money in the oil fields when he was just a teenager. He got a job right out of high school that paid him $50,000 a year, which was a lot back then.

But then the oil industry in the country went downhill, and Keith hadn’t saved much. He said, “It about broke us.” So, he learned from that experience and started being careful with his money.

After that, he played football for a bit with the Oklahoma City Drillers. But he found more stable money playing music with his band around Oklahoma and Texas.

Music became his constant passion, even when things were tough. But he didn’t have any connections to help him become successful in the music industry at first.

After some time, Toby Keith went to Nashville. There, Harold Shedd, who was in charge of Mercury Records and known for his work with the band Alabama, noticed him. Shedd brought Toby to Mercury, and in 1993, Toby released his first big album called “Toby Keith,” which went platinum.

One of his most famous songs, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” was played a lot on the radio, becoming the most played country song of the 1990s with 3 million plays.

But at Mercury Records, the attention was mostly on Shania Twain, a big global star. Toby felt like the executives were trying to make him sound more like pop music, which he didn’t like.

“They were trying to make me change, and it made me really unhappy,” Toby Keith said. “Everyone was trying to turn me into something I wasn’t.”

So, after a few albums with hits like “Who’s That Man” and a cover of Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying,” Toby moved to DreamWorks Records in 1999.

After Toby Keith moved to DreamWorks Records, he had a big hit with “How Do You Like Me Now?!” This song became really popular and even made it onto the Top 40 charts.

In 2001, Toby won awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards for best male singer and best album. He said on stage that he had been waiting a long time for this, almost nine years!

Toby Keith was always open about his political views, especially after the 9/11 attacks. At first, he said he was a conservative Democrat, but later said he was an independent. He performed at events for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Trump even gave him a National Medal of the Arts in 2021.

Some of Toby’s songs and his outspoken opinions sometimes caused controversy. For example, his song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” had a line about putting a boot in someone’s rear, which upset some people. The song was taken off a Fourth of July TV special because it was considered too angry.

Toby also had a feud with The Chicks (who used to be called the Dixie Chicks). They criticized President Bush, and Toby didn’t like it. They had arguments in public, and Toby even showed a picture of one of the singers with Saddam Hussein at his concerts, which made some fans mad.

Maines, from The Chicks, responded to the feud with Toby Keith by wearing a shirt with the letters “FUTK” at the 2003 ACM Awards. Many thought it was a rude message to Toby.

Toby Keith left the ACM Awards early in 2003 because he was upset about not winning in earlier categories. He missed out when he won entertainer of the year, and Vince Gill accepted the award for him. But Toby came back the next year and won the top prize again, along with other awards.

Toby wasn’t just about singing. He cared a lot about the military. He visited troops overseas on 11 USO tours and helped raise millions for charity. He even built a home in Oklahoma City for kids with cancer and their families.

After Universal Music Group took over DreamWorks, Toby started his own record label called Show Dog in 2005. Many people didn’t think it would work, but Toby didn’t let that stop him.

Show Dog-Universal Music signed Toby and other artists like Trace Adkins and Joe Nichols. Toby’s later songs like “Love Me If You Can” and “Red Solo Cup” were also big hits. He was even honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

In November 2022, BMI gave Toby the BMI Icon award, not long after he shared his cancer diagnosis.

“I always thought that songwriting was the most important part of the music business,” Toby told his fellow singers and writers at the award ceremony.