Oklahoma – Country music singer-songwriter Toby Keith, who made his major debut in 1993 with his popular single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” died late Monday, according to a statement on his website. He was 62.
Posted earlier today, the statement on his official website stated: “Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
Keith was also a rodeo hand in his early days before reaching country music fame.
In 2003, he also released one of his top singles called “Beer for My Horses” and reached $22 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it had mixed reviews from critics. The song also featured country music legend Willie Nelson.
Keith had announced in the summer of 2022 that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and was being treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
In a December interview with Oklahoma’s KWTV, Keith stated he was still in treatment. “Cancer is a roller coaster,” he said. “You just sit here and wait on it to go away– it may not ever go away.”
He talked about how his Christian faith was helping him get through the treatment and the potentially dark outcome.
Keith was well known for writing or at least co-writing much of his material. Over 60 of his singles also reached the country music charts, including 20 No. 1 hits. He also sold over 40 million albums worldwide. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.
Before hitting it big in 1993, Keith had multiple jobs to support his family. Besides being a rodeo hand, he worked in the Oklahoma oil fields and was a semi-professional football player.
One of Keith’s most prominent instances was with his No. 1 hit in 2002 titled “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”. Keith wrote the song following the deadly attacks on 9/11. The death of his father, a disabled military veteran who died a year earlier in an automobile accident, also influenced the song.
At times, Keith confounded his critics with his music and public statements. He also described himself as a conservative Democrat.
“I don’t apologize for being patriotic,” Keith said in a 2007 interview with Newsday.
Keith is survived by his mother; his wife, Tricia; two daughters, Shelly and Krystal; a son, Stelen; a sister, Tonnie; a brother, Tracy; and four grandchildren.