The country superstar singer-songwriter has passed away at age 62.
The C&I crew extends sympathy and condolences to the family, friends and fans of Toby Keith, the Platinum-selling country music superstar who has died after a long battle with stomach cancer. He was 62.
His loved ones announced the sad news on social media: “"Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on Feb. 5 surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
A proudly outspoken and sometimes controversial figure in the world of country music and beyond, Keith nevertheless claimed a fan base — and logged record sales — that could be counted in tens of millions. The Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter charted 20 No. 1 singles throughout his career, including “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “I Love This Bar,” “Beer for My Horses,” “As Good as I Once Was,” and "How Do You Like Me Now?!”
Keith also starred in two feature films: Broken Bridges (2006), which cast him opposite such notables as Burt Reynolds and Tess Harper as a faded country star who seeks reconciliation with members of his extended family; and Beer for My Horses (2008), a rowdy comedy-drama in which Keith portrayed a small-town Oklahoma deputy sheriff pitted against a Mexican drug lord who kidnapped his girlfriend (Gina Gershon).
In 2021, he and Ricky Skaggs were among a handful of artists given National Medals of the Arts by President Donald Trump.
“Toby Keith was big, brash, and never bowed down or slowed down for anyone,” wrote Kyle Young, CEO of Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He relished being an outsider and doing things his way. For three decades, he reflected the defiant strength of the country music audience. His memory will continue to stand tall.”
In a prepared statement, Bill Ray Cyrus eulogized his friend: “Stood me still with emotion and memories to see and hear of the loss of my friend…the legend…Toby Keith. Heart breaking with thoughts and prayers for his fans and family this morning. We toured together several times around the globe. He was always the kindest…sweetest gentle giant of an outlaw one could ever hope to entertain and make music with. Raising a Red Cup this morning and saying a prayer. Heaven’s a honkytonk tonight.”
Among the many other tributes from friends and admirers:
Don McLean: “I admire the way Toby battled this awful illness. He released new music, and he was on stage at the end. There is nothing coming along to replace people like him." -
Lee Greenwood: “Toby Keith did things his way — amazing artist, songwriter, patriot, and man of faith. I admired him and how he rolled. He and I shared a deep love for our military, and I’m proud that he took his music to dangerous places in order to give the American spirit to those protecting freedom. I was pleased he called me the OG and was honored to work with him a few times through the years. Please join our family in praying for the Keith family. I am confident that Toby was met at the pearly gates by patriots who have gone before and is resting in the arms of Jesus.”
Crystal Gayle: “It’s heartbreaking to lose Toby Keith. I’ve always been a big fan of Toby and his music, and I’ll always treasure singing with him. Toby was a great American.”
Chapel Hart: “Toby was the embodiment of GOD, Family, & Country… and had a way of making you stand up a little taller when singing about (or honoring) our service men and women. We are better country music artists because of the life and legacy of Toby Keith. Rest well, brother, may your music and legacy live on forever!”
T.G. Sheppard: “It’s always sad when hearing that one of our great talents has left for home. He was truly one of the most talented singer-songwriters ever to grace a stage. Hearing his voice and music through the years always brought a smile to my face. Kelly and I have often prayed for him since hearing of his diagnosis. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and legions of fans all over the world. R.I.P. Toby.”
Artimus Pyle: “Toby Keith was relatable to fans from all genres. This is a loss we will all feel for a long time. He fought a true fight and has been an inspiration to us all.”
Janie Fricke: “Toby has been a great talent and image in the music business and will be respected and remembered forever.”
T. Graham Brown: “Toby was a true American success story and never forgot what America stands for. He was an icon. God bless his family at this sorrowful time. R.I.P.”
Tim Atwood: “The story that will forever define Toby Keith for me is very personal. My son Torre was serving his first tour in Iraq – stationed in a remote area on the outskirts of Samarra in a very volatile area. Toby came to Iraq to entertain our troops. However, after several shows, Toby said he wanted to entertain those men who were isolated. Toby was told of a small group of men in ‘No Man’s Land’ but was strongly advised not to go there. It was too dangerous. Toby insisted. He didn't want to endanger the lives of other musicians and entertainers, so he went alone. But for a few hours, Toby and his guitar brought a piece of America to a handful of Americans who needed a reminder that they were not forgotten. I will always love Toby Keith for the morale boost he gave my son when he needed it most. I will always remember him as a man of character.”