Toby Keith Dies: Country Music Star Was 62

Toby Keith, a country music superstar and Songwriters Hall of Famer, died Monday after a three-year battle with stomach cancer. He was 62.

His family announced his death in a post on Instagram: “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.”

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Born Toby Keith Covel on July 8, 1961, in Clinton, OK, Keith amassed three dozen Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart from 1993-2011, 20 of which hit No. 1. Eleven of his singles went platinum and 10 more went gold. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

Some of the biggest names in country music and others paid tribute to Keith today. See a sampling below.

He became interested in music via his grandmother’s supper club in Fort Smith, AK, where she would lay on bands for the clients.

His best-known hits include debut song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” which topped country charts in 1993; with 1999’s “How Do You Like Me Now?”; “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This” (2000); “I Wanna Talk About Me” and “My List” in 2001; “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” in 2002; 2003’s “Beer For My Horses,” “I Love This Bar” and “American Soldier”; and “As Good As I Once Was” (2005).

He released 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums and five compilation albums, 12 of which were million-sellers. He sold more than 25 million albums in the U.S. alone and 40 million worldwide across his career.

As an actor, Keith’s credits included the 2005 drama Broken Bridges, directed by Steven Goldmann, in which he played a washed-up country musician living in small town Tennessee, in a cast also featuring Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds, Tess Harper, and Lindsey Haun.

Keith also wrote and starred in the 2008 movie Beer for My Horses, based on his hit song, which was a duet with Willie Nelson.

He made nearly a dozen USO trips to entertainment U.S. forces deployed overseas.

The singer first was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021 and went public with his health battle the following year. He performed for the first time since his diagnosis at the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards in September and was honored with the Country Icon Award at the ceremony. “I bet you never thought you’d see me in skinny jeans,” joked Keith, who was noticeably trimmer than was usual for him. He then thanked God: “He’s been riding shotgun with me for a little while.”

He is survived by his wife Tricia Lucas and their three children — daughters Shelley Covel Rowland and Krystal Keith and son Stelen Keith.

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