Toby Keith Dead at 62 After Stomach Cancer Battle
Toby Keith, who built one of the biggest country music careers of his generation, has died.
According to a post on his social media pages, Keith died on Monday (Feb. 5) after a long battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.
"Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time."
Born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Okla., on July 8, 1961, Keith hung around his grandmother's supper club in Fort Smith, Ark., during some of his formative years, and that's where he began to pick up music, getting his first guitar at the age of 8 and sometimes joining the band on stage.
Keith played football during high school in Moore, Okla., and after graduation, he worked as a hand in the oil fields while playing gigs with his band, the Easy Money Band.
He sought his fortunes in Nashville in the early '90s, but the labels in town initially rebuffed him before a fan of Keith's who worked as a flight attendant gave his demo to Harold Shedd, an executive at Mercury Records who offered Keith a recording contract.
Toby Keith Songs
Keith's 1993 self-titled debut album scored him a No. 1 hit with his debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy," and gave him three more hits with "He Ain't Worth Missing," "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "Wish I Didn't Know Now."
That began a period of commercial success for Keith that scored him a long string of No. 1 hits, including "Who's That Man," "How Do You Like Me Now?!," "My List," "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," "American Soldier," "As Good as I Once Was" and more.
Keith's signature blend of blue-collar anthems and proud, patriotic songs — mixed with some slower, romantic fare — built him into one of the most successful country artists of his generation, whose tours routinely sold out the biggest arenas and venues. He parlayed that success into a number of other business ventures, including a chain of restaurants called Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, a clothing line, a Mezcal brand, an acting career and more. His mix of musical and financial savvy made him one of the richest celebrities in the world, and Forbes dubbed Keith "Country Music's $500 Million Man" in 2013.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Keith engaged in public disputes with label heads, journalists and, most notably, the Dixie Chicks, but his brash, take-no-prisoners approach only endeared him to fans more. He was a two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted him in 2015, while the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted him in 2021.
Toby Keith Cause of Death
Keith revealed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in June of 2022, and he bravely fought the illness, returning to the spotlight to receive the Icon Award at the first-ever People's Choice Country Awards in September of 2023.
He gave an impassioned performance of "Don't Let the Old Man In" during that ceremony, and followed that appearance by announcing a series of comeback shows in Las Vegas, which he completed at the end of 2023.
Keith is survived by his wife Tricia, whom he married in 1984. They have two daughters, Shelley and Krystal and one son, Stelen. He’s also survived by four grandchildren and extended family.
There are no details about his funeral at this time.
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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes