Country Music Legend Toby Keith Dies At 62
Keith passed away on the evening of February 5 surrounded by family.
Toby Keith; Photo by Katherine Bomboy/NBC
After a more than two-year-long battle with stomach cancer, country music icon Toby Keith has died. He was 62 years old.
The announcement was made via Keith’s official Facebook page in the early morning hours of Tuesday, February 6, just hours after his passing.
The statement reads: “Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
Toby is survived by his wife, Tricia Lucus, as well as his children, Krystal, Shelley, and Stelen.
Keith’s untimely death comes just weeks after he took the stage in Las Vegas for what became his final three concerts. During those shows, the lauded singer/songwriter thrilled fans with performances of some of his biggest hits, including “Beer For My Horses,” “How Do You Like Me Now,” “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This,” “Red Solo Cup,” and “Courtesy of the Red White And Blue.”
At one point during each show, he surprised fans with a segment of songs that “should’ve been singles.” This proved to be a fan-favorite moment.
Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021, however, he did not reveal his diagnosis to fans until the summer of 2022. At this point, he canceled all concerts and allowed himself time to focus on his treatments.
“I am…I am not going to let this define what my future is,” he said with confidence knowing that “It ain’t up to us.”
Instead, the superstar promised to let his faith guide his way.
“You have to have your faith. Thank God that I got it,” he shared. “You take it for granted on days that things are good and you lean on it when days are bad and it’s taught me to lean on a little more every day.”
Last fall, Keith’s successful career was celebrated during the People’s Choice Country Awards when he received the Country Icon Award.
The Oklahoma native took to the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech during the show.
“Y’all never thought you’d see me in skinny jeans. I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight. You’ve been riding shotgun with me for a little while. Want to thank my beautiful family [is] here,” Keith said. “A lot of people go in and make it a big career like this of 30 years, my manager, TK Kimbrell, Brian O’Connell, Elaine Schock, the band and the crew and everybody that’s all behind this thing, all the great musicians that have played on all of these albums in the studios, they’ve poured their heart and soul into what I do. And most of all, I want to thank the fans for still allowing us to do what we do. So God bless you. Thank you.”
It was at this time that he made his comeback TV performance, delivering an emotional rendition of “Don’t Let The Old Man In,” live on stage. This performance went viral and prompted a second chance for the song at country radio.
With 32 No.1 singles and 40 million albums sold, Toby Keith is regarded as one of country music’s biggest hitmakers. He wrote a chart-topping hit every year for 20 consecutive years, including “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American),” “I Love This Bar,” “Beer For My Horses,” and “As Good As I Once Was.”
He is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (having already been inducted into the all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015), and was honored with the Academy of Country Music’s prestigious Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
Throughout his career, the Oklahoma native received the BMI Icon Award as well as the BMI Country Songwriter of the Year award three times, and his hit single “As Good As I Once Was” was awarded BMI’s Country Song of the Year in 2006.
His music has garnered more than 10 billion streams and 100 million terrestrial radio spins to date.
Keith’s most rewarding experiences, however, have come from giving back locally, nationally, and abroad. His annual golf classics fund the Toby Keith Foundation and OK Kids Korral, a cost-free home for families of children dealing with critical illnesses, and his 11 USO tours have enhanced the lives of nearly 256,000 troops and military families.
In 2014, he was given the Spirit of the USO Award for his work with the organization, which has so far included 11 tours and more than 285 events in over 18 countries. In an even more personal instance of philanthropy, he became the face of his hometown after it was ravaged by a tornado, shouldering the cleanup, and headlining the 2013 OK Twister Relief Concert.
Lauren Jo Black
Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.