Country Music Star Toby Keith Dead At 62

The singer "passed peacefully" surrounded by his family, according to a statement.
Toby Keith has died.
Toby Keith has died.
Variety via Getty Images

Country music star Toby Keith died Monday following a diagnosis of stomach cancer. He was 62.

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family,” a statement posted to his website read. “He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

The “Red Solo Cup” singer, whose birth name was Toby Keith Covel, revealed in June 2022 that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in fall 2021. He said at the time he had received chemotherapy, radiation and surgery during the six months prior.

In September 2023, the Oklahoma native received the Country Icon Award at the People’s Choice Country Awards. Speaking to E! News ahead of the show, he said his experience with cancer had been “a little bit of a roller coaster.”

“You get good days and, you know, you’re up and down, up and down. It’s always zero to 60 and 60 to zero but I feel good today,” he said.

Reflecting on his achievements, he said it was “nice to recognize my 30-year career.”

“Those years of pounding those songs out there and remembering where you were when each one was conceived and all that, it’s amazing,” he said.

Keith’s hits included “Who’s Your Daddy,” “Rock You Baby” and “Beer for My Horses.” He sold over 40 million albums throughout his career and landed 61 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

His debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” topped the country charts after its 1993 release and became the most-played country song of that decade.

Keith was politically outspoken throughout his career, and surprised some by pointing out that he had been a lifelong Democrat before registering as an independent.

In the early 2000s, he became embroiled in a high-profile controversy with Natalie Maines, the lead singer of The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), after she called out his post-9/11 anthem, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and criticized then-President George W. Bush over the invasion of Iraq.

Maines called the song “ignorant.” Keith responded by showing a doctored photo of her with Saddam Hussein at one of his concerts.

In 2017, Keith performed at former President Donald Trump’s inauguration-eve “Make America Great Again” concert, playing patriotic hits including “American Soldier” and “Made in America.” A number of other celebrities had declined to participate in the event.

Responding to critics afterward, Keith noted that he had also performed at events for former President Barack Obama and Bush.

“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said at the time.

Keith’s father was an Army veteran and the singer made multiple trips to the Middle East to perform for service members in the 2000s.

He was also involved in philanthropic work through The Toby Keith Foundation, which supported children with cancer and their families.

Keith is survived by his wife, Tricia Lucus, and three children.

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