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Toby Keith, Whose Faith Was His ‘Rock,’ Passes Away From Cancer At Age 62

toby keith
Toby Keith performs for service members at the Camp Liberty Post Exchange Stage, April 26, 2008, during his sixth United Services Organizations tour. “We like to come over here and say thank you to the troops,” Keith said. “We hope the music we bring takes everybody’s mind off of what they’re doing for a couple hours and lets them enjoy life the way free Americans are supposed to enjoy it.” Spc. Aaron Rosencrans, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Country music star Toby Keith passed away Monday, Feb. 5, at the age of 62. In a September 2023 interview, Keith said that he was relying on his faith to get him through his battle with stomach cancer.

“I lean on my faith and I just pray and lean into it,” Keith told Fox News prior to receiving the first ever Country Icon Award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. “You gotta do what you gotta do, and I don’t know how people do it without faith…that’s what I did, it was my rock.” 

Toby Keith Passes ‘Surrounded by His Family’

Toby Keith was a country music singer whose accolades include seven Grammy nominations and numerous Country Music Award and American Music Award nominations and wins. According to Billboard, he earned 20 No. 1 hits and 42 Top 10 hits on the Hot Country Songs chart, among his other achievements.

Toby Keith was born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Oklahoma, on July 8, 1961. He showed interest in music as a young boy. Instead of going to college after high school, he went to work in the Oklahoma oil fields and played in local bars with the Easy Money Band. After the oil industry collapsed, Keith played semi-pro football for a couple of seasons.

He continued playing music and moved to Nashville in the early 1990s. Keith got his break after releasing his eponymous debut album. The album’s single, ”Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” topped the Billboard Hot Country Song charts and became the most played country song of the 1990s. The album made it to No. 93 on the Hot 100. 

Keith’s other hits include “Red Solo Cup,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Beer for My Horses,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “American Soldier,” and “Courtesy of The Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).” 

Keith drew controversy at times, such as for the lyrics to “Courtesy of The Red, White, and Blue” (written after the Sept. 11 attacks) and for his feud with The Chicks, formerly known as The Dixie Chicks.

The singer was an avid patriot and a steadfast supporter of military veterans. He went on 11 USO tours where he played for American service members overseas. Speaking to The Associated Press in 2001, Keith said, “I write about life, and I sing about life, and I don’t overanalyze things.”

In June 2022, Keith revealed he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer during the fall of 2021. “I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery,” he said. He pulled away from touring at the time but still performed some during his battle with cancer. His last performance was on Dec. 14 in Las Vegas.