Remembering Toby Keith

Toby Keith
(Photo courtesy of Toby Keith)

Yesterday (2/5/24) country music singer-songwriter Toby Keith passed away. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021. Toby fought a valiant battle against the disease. He even performed three shows last December at Park MGM’s Dolby Live in Las Vegas. He had hopes of doing a limited tour later this year.

Sadly, we got the news from the family through social media and on Toby’s website, “Toby Keith passed peacefully last night … surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

Toby scored his first #1 single in 1993 with “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” During his 30 years in country music, he made 21 studio albums and seven compilation albums. He released 69 singles with 20 of them hitting #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay singles chart. He has 12 more #1s on other country airplay charts for a total of 32 chart toppers.

Toby was nominated for seven Grammys, 28 CMA Awards and 46 ACM Awards. He won two CMA Awards and 12 ACM Awards including ACM Entertainer of the Year in 2003 and 2004.

Toby has received special ACM awards including the Merle Haggard Spirit Award (2021), the Poet’s Award (2017), the Career Achievement Award (2014) and the Tex Ritter Film Award (2009).

Last September, at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards, Toby was given the Country Icon Award. He also performed on TV for the first time since his cancer treatment began.

Toby was inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021. He was always most proud of the honors he got as a songwriter.

Toby was a staunch supporter of the U.S. military headlining numerous USO tours for our men and women in uniform all over the world.

During his career he also launched his own major record label, Show Dog Nashville. He opened a chain of restaurants in multiple cities in the U.S. called “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.” He even expanded his business into clothing and his own alcohol brands. Forbes even put Toby on the cover of a 2013 edition of their magazine with the caption, “Country Music’s $500 Million Man.”

Toby Keith made his mark on Country Music and the USA in a way that a man with the nickname the “Big Dog Daddy” only could. His talent and songwriting will continue to influence country artists for many years to come. Country Music and the USA was made better by Toby Keith in my opinion.

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens