The world of country music has lost one of it’s best, with the passing of Toby Keith
Toby Keith Covel, known professionally as Toby Keith, passed away peacefully on February 5, 2024, surrounded by his family. He was 62 years old. He had been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer since the fall of 2022.
Toby Keith was born on July 8, 1961, in Clinton, Oklahoma, and grew up in Moore, Oklahoma. He worked as a roughneck in the oil fields and played semi-pro football before pursuing his passion for music. He married Tricia Lucus in 1984 and adopted her daughter, Shelley. They had two more children, Krystal and Stelen.
Toby Keith rose to fame in the 1990s with his debut single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”, which topped the country charts and became the most-played country song of the decade. He went on to release 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums, and five compilation albums, selling over 40 million records worldwide. He had 20 number one hits and 22 additional top 10 hits, including “How Do You Like Me Now?!”, “Beer for My Horses”, “As Good as I Once Was”, and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”.
Toby Keith was known for his patriotic and outspoken songs, which often stirred controversy and criticism. He also had a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and a powerful voice that could convey love, anger, and joy. He was influenced by country legends like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, and collaborated with many artists, such as Sting, Jimmy Buffett, and Clint Eastwood.
Toby Keith also ventured into acting, starring in the films Broken Bridges and Beer for My Horses, which were inspired by his songs. He founded his own record label, Show Dog Nashville, in 2005, and opened several restaurants and bars called “I Love This Bar & Grill”. He was a generous philanthropist, supporting causes such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Toby Keith Foundation, and the USO.
Toby Keith was preceded in death by his father, Hubert Keith Covel, and his mother, Carolyn Joan Covel. He is survived by his wife, Tricia; his children, Shelley, Krystal, and Stelen; his grandchildren, Hensley and Sabine; his sister, Tonnie; his brother, Tracy; and many other relatives and friends.
A private funeral service will be held for the family, followed by a public memorial service at a later date. Details will be announced on his website and social media accounts. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Toby Keith Foundation, which supports children with cancer and their families.
Toby Keith will be remembered as a country music icon, a loving husband and father, and a proud American. He touched millions of lives with his songs and his spirit. He will be greatly missed by his fans and his peers. As he sang in his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In”, he never let age or illness stop him from living his life to the fullest. He was as good as he once was, and always will be.