Toby Keith — the iconic country music singer — has died after a battle with stomach cancer.
Keith passed away Monday night while surrounded by his family, according to a statement posted to his Facebook page.
“He fought his fight with grace and courage,” the message read, alluding to his serious health issues.
In June 2022, Keith announced he had been diagnosed with cancer the previous fall and was receiving chemo and radiation therapy, as well as having surgery.
At the time, he said he was doing well, but he needed time to “breathe, recover and relax.”
As you know, Keith was one of the biggest names in country music. Throughout his three-decade career, he released 24 studio and compilation albums and 2 Christmas records, generating $40 million in worldwide music sales.
Keith also produced 61 tracks that appeared on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, with 20 of them hitting number one and 22 others landing in the top ten.
Some of his most recognizable tunes were “Who’s Your Daddy?,” “Made In America,” “Should Have Been A Cowboy,” “As Good As I Once Was,” and “Beer for My Horses,” a 2005 duet with Willie Nelson.
Born in Oklahoma, Keith landed his first record deal in 1993 after being employed as a rodeo hand, a roughneck and playing semiprofessional football. He worked around the clock, once telling former TV news anchor, Dan Rather, “I didn’t take many vacations the first 20 years of my adult life.”
Using his intense work ethic, Keith cranked out album after album and became a household name in 2002, when he released a controversial song, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).” He wrote the tune in response to the 9/11 attacks and the death of his disabled veteran father in a vehicle accident the same year.
Keith went on to perform numerous shows for US military officers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as three former American presidents, namely Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. At his performances, Keith was known to dole out gifts to wheelchair-bound veterans wounded in combat.
In 2021, then-President Trump honored Keith with the National Medal of Arts award, which is “the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government,” according to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Last September, Keith took home the Country Music Icon Award at the People’s Choice Country Awards 2023. After accepting the statue, he gave a speech that brought some levity to his cancer diagnosis and stunning weight loss, saying, “Bet you thought you’d never see me in skinny jeans.”
Toby is survived by his wife, Tricia, and three children, Shelley, Krystal and Stelen. He was 62.