Toby Keith dead at 62: Country music singer passed away surrounded by his family after three year battle with stomach cancer weeks after saying he was finally ‘comfortable with whatever happened’
Country music legend Toby Keith has died at the age of 62, according to a message on his social media platforms.
‘Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5, surrounded by his family. He fought his battle with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time,” the message read.
The singer is survived by his wife, Tricia Lucas, and their three children, daughters Shelley Covel Rowland, co-singer Krystal Keith and son, Stelen. He also had four grandchildren. During his illustrious career, Keith sold more than 40 million records.
Earlier this month, the singer opened up about his stomach cancer battle in an interview with 9 News. The Should’ve Been a Cowboy singer was first diagnosed in 2021.
‘I’ve been through all the chemo, radiation, surgery, and I got to the point where I was comfortable with whatever happened. I had my brain around it, and I was in a good place anyway,’ Keith said.
The message posted on Toby Keith’s social media pages on February 6
Keith pictured with his wife Tricia at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2018
Keith performs on stage for the BMI Icon Award at the 2022 BMI Country Awards in Nashville in 2022
During the 9News interview, Keith, a longtime resident of Norman, Oklahoma, the singer called his wife “the best nurse.”
“Oh, she was a trooper. She is the best nurse. The first time we went to Houston, to the hospital, she walked right in and she just took control and said, “We got it. Let’s go.” So she’s like, “We’re going to get it and don’t worry about it,” he added.
The couple first met in an Oklahoma nightclub in 1981 when he was 20 and she was 19. They dated for three years before marrying in 1984. At that point, Keith adopted Tricia’s daughter from a previous relationship, Shelley.
Their daughter Krystal came along in 1985, followed by son Stelen in 1997. When they married, Keith was still struggling to make it as a country music singer, he credits his wife with standing by him during those times.
“Dozens of people told Tricia, ‘You need to go tell your old man to get a real job,'” he once told Country Weekly.
“It took a strong heart and loving wife to say, “He’s good enough at music that I should let him try. And it would be a good shot for both of us, he can make it work.”
“I absolutely love performing and writing songs, but being at home with my wife, Tricia, and my three kids is the best feeling of all,” he continued.
In September 2023, Tricia was seen in tears when Keith performed the song Don’t Let the Old Man In after receiving the Country Icon Award at the People’s Choice Country Awards.
As a young artist, Keith asked to be released from his contract with Mercury Records when executives didn’t like his album, How Do You Like Me Now? because they thought women would find the title track’s lyrics disrespectful.
But how do you like me now? reached gold status and sold more than 500,000 units, and Keith sold 25 million albums for his new label, Dreamworks.
He said in an interview with The Oklahoman in June 2023 that he had already undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery in the past six months.
He said in an interview in June 2023 with The Oklahoman that he has already undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for the past six months.
He added that he will continue with the chemo and that his tumor has shrunk by a third and that his blood tests look good.
Keith did not speak publicly about his cancer battle until 2022.
The multi-platinum-selling singer said on Twitter that he had undergone surgery and chemotherapy and radiation for the past six months.
“So far, so good,” said Keith, an Oklahoma native who turns 61 on July 8. ‘I need time to breathe, recover and relax.
‘I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner rather than later. I can not wait.’
In 2006 Keith set set up a foundation to help children fighting cancer.
According to The Washington Post, Through his music and other ventures, Keith brought in $50 million a year. His ventures included a stake in Big Machine Records, the Nashville-based company that signed Taylor Swift in 2005.
In addition to his music and charitable works, Keith was also known for his often outspoken political beliefs.
After September 11, Keith recorded the song Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, which provoked both widespread praise and intense backlash.
‘It is not written for everyone. And when you write something from your heart – I had a father who was a veteran, who taught me how precious our freedom is – I was so angry when we were attacked here on American soil that it leaked out, ” Keith said about the track in a 2003 interview.
‘You know, some people cried when they heard that. Some people got goosebumps. Some people were emotionally moved. Some were cheering, pumping their fists in the air,’ he added.
Among those critical were fellow country stars, the Dixie Chicks. Singer Natalie Maines described it as ‘ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant.’
Keith responded by having a backdrop of a photoshopped image of Maines with Saddam Hussein at his concerts. In late 2003, Keith said he was done with the feud.
The song became one of Keith’s biggest hits, topping the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and number 25 on the Billboard Hot 11 chart.
Keith spoke about his admiration for Barack Obama in 2008, but ultimately said he was more likely to vote for the Republican ticket.
In January 2021, Keith was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Trump along with fellow country star Ricky Skaggs
Keith performs for US President-elect Donald Trump and his family during a welcome celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on January 19, 2017
In 2017, Keith performed at the Make America Great Again! Welcome celebration at the Lincoln Memorial before Donald Trump’s inauguration.
In January 2021, Keith was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Trump along with fellow country star Ricky Skaggs.
In the program notes for the ceremony, as shared by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the award was presented to Keith for “extraordinary contributions to American music.”
“Toby Keith rose from humble beginnings in the oil fields of Oklahoma to become one of the leading songwriters of his generation,” the program says. ‘His musical contributions have provided the country with powerful, emotional songs that captivate and inspire the nation.’
While never endorsing Trump, Keith previously called the president — and his then-opponent Hilary Clinton — “media whores” during a September 2016 interview.
“This is by far the best country you could ever live in, and we elected these two candidates to be media whores and go out there and take care of the world, right?” he said during an interview at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. He went on to call the election a ‘dumpster fire’.
Asked earlier that August which candidate he would vote for in 2016, Keith said: ‘This election, I don’t think it makes a difference.
“I can’t believe there are 300 million Americans in this country and we have these two as our last two. It’s absolutely crazy.’
Keith previously revealed that he was raised a Democrat in Oklahoma and was registered with the party until 2008, when he became an independent.
‘I’ve been a Democrat all my life. They kind of disowned me when I started supporting the troops, then I went and registered as an independent,’ he told the Chicago Tribune.
‘I have never been a registered Republican. It just keeps people off balance. They don’t know what to think.’