Notables in Nashville and the world beyond honor the late country superstar.
Tributes from colleagues and admirers continue to appear online and in public statements as the sad news spreads about Toby Keith’s death Monday at age 62.
Ricky Skaggs: “I was saddened to hear of Toby Keith’s passing. He really was one of the good guys. He helped a lot of people get started in the business. He loved God, he loved his family, and he was a true Patriot. He loved America. A friend to so many, including myself! Rest dear brother, you’re home at last!”
Larry Gatlin: “Sometimes we use the word 'friend' when we really mean acquaintance. Toby Keith was my friend, and all I know is this. My friend Toby does not have cancer in Heaven this morning.
As we’d say in OKLAHOMA and TEXAS, he was a good sumbich. That’s about the highest praise a TEXAN can give to someone. REST IN PEACE, COWBOY.”
Darryl Worley: “Toby Keith was his own man. He set a great example for all of us in life and in death. He had one shot at this, just like we all do, and he did it his way. I paid attention to his life and his career. He had a swagger that was a little different than most because he knew who he was. In life we have a chance to leave a mark that will not fade and he knocked it out of the park. In death we have a chance to exit this awful, beautiful life with grace and dignity. Toby just hit another grand slam and we could learn from this example. Sometimes it’s not about the elaborate production because sometimes the production is simply the actions of the man. God Bless you and your family and thank you for showing us all how it’s done.”
Moe Bandy: “What a loss to our music. A great talent with a big heart. Everybody loved Toby. RIP.”
Levi Riggs: “Toby Keith owned the radio airwaves when I was a kid. ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue’ was one of his boldest moves as an artist. I love that song and appreciate him always speaking his mind. Cancer is indiscriminate. We’ll miss him.”
Billy Dean: “Toby did it ‘The Cowboy Way’ with courage and dignity and his work will live on. Old Cowboys Never Die, they just ride away.”
And Rolling Stone reports that Toby Keith was instrumental in the ascendance of another superstar: “Nearly 20 years ago, the efforts of one country music icon kicked open a door for the arrival of another. In 2005, Toby Keith… entered into a joint venture with music executive Scott Borchetta to launch Big Machine Records, the first record label to sign Taylor Swift. The rest is, quite literally, history…
“‘You’re in the room with him and you can feel it, there’s a power there,’ Swift told Nashville’s WSMV4 about Keith. “And you’re just like ‘oh my God.’ I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I don’t see him and are just like, ‘Oh my God that’s Toby Keith.’”