Luke Combs Honors Late Country Music Icon, Toby Keith, With Emotional Performance Of ‘Should’ve Been A Cowboy’

The country star’s performance moved the audience to tears.


Melanie Rooten

| Posted on

February 8, 2024


4:12 pm

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Luke Combs; Photo by Zack Massey

Lottery winners were in for a treat on Tuesday night (Feb. 6) when Luke Combs dedicated a portion of his private concert to honoring the life of the late Toby Keith, who passed away less than 24 hours before after a “pretty debilitating” battle with stomach cancer. Combs put on a stellar performance of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” that had the whole crowd on their feet.

The evening itself was truly one-of-a-kind, serving as a part of the “Living Lucky With Luke Combs” multi-state lottery experience. With less than a quarter of the iconic Ryman Auditorium filled, the show was limited to state lottery winners – making the experience as intimate as can be – with Combs performing stripped-down versions of some of his smash hits: “She Got the Best of Me,” “The Kind of Love We Make,” “Beautiful Crazy” and beyond.

After an opening set from sister trio The Castellows that was nothing short of spectacular, Combs took the stage, singing songs like “Cold As You,” “Forever After All,” “One Number Away” and more before deciding to stray away from his usual setlist.

Luke Combs; Photo by Zack Massey
Luke Combs; Photo by Zack Massey

Covered Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”

As soon as the crowd started shouting the name Toby Keith, the North Carolina native admitted that he had planned to perform a Toby Keith cover that evening, however, he was not sure whether or not the crowd would be on board.

After learning that the attendees would be pleased to hear this cover, Combs pulled up the lyrics to “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” on his cell phone, instantaneously beginning to sing the beloved tune. Naturally, this performance had the entirety of the Ryman Auditorium on their feet, singing and dancing along, all while celebrating the country legend that was the one and only Toby Keith.

A Moment That Moved The Audience To Tears

During the tribute, Combs pulled out his phone to take a selfie style video – seemingly capturing the oh-so special moment to look back on for years to come – and handed off a verse of the chart-topping track to one of the members of his band, an Oklahoma native just like Keith.

This portion of the private concert was extra special to those in attendance, with some audience members even shedding a few tears after the cover came to a close. 

Remembering A Country Music Great

This was not the only time that CMA Award-winner acknowledged the passing of Toby Keith, honoring the global sensation in posts via X and Instagram that same day.

“Damn, RIP Toby. Can’t believe it,” Combs shared via X, formerly known as Twitter.

“I can’t believe you’re gone. You left one hell of a mark on country music and we all owe you one,” Combs shared via Instagram as well. 

The “Beer Never Broke My Heart” singer was one of many country superstars that took to social media to honor the life of the late Toby Keith, with artists like Carrie Underwood, Jelly Roll, Cole Swindell, Old Dominion, Jason Aldean, Morgan Wallen, Mitchell Tenpenny, Dustin Lynch, Justin Moore and many more sharing some heartfelt messages.

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Melanie Rooten

Written by

Melanie Rooten

Originally from Southern California and currently residing in Music City, Melanie graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism before beginning her career as a music and entertainment journalist. Beginning to write for Country Now in August of 2023, she has also contributed to Holler, Music Mayhem, Country Chord, Celeb Secrets, Celeb Secrets Country, We Got This Covered and Decider throughout her career thus far. When she is not writing, Melanie enjoys going to concerts and music festivals, binging her favorite television shows, spending time with her friends and family and cheering on the Oklahoma Sooners (of course).