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Toby Keith image courtesy and © 2024 Universal Music Group
Toby Keith image courtesy and © 2024 Universal Music Group

Friends, musicians pay tribute to Toby Keith


Tue, Feb 6th 2024 10:50 am

Country Music Hall of Fame Issues Statement on Passing of Toby Keith

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Press Release

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum issued the following statement on Tuesday, following the news of Toby Keith’s passing.

"Toby Keith was big, brash, and never bowed down or slowed down for anyone," said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. "His story is a distinctly American one – a former roughneck oil worker who carved out his own space in country music with a sinewy voice and an unbending will to succeed. He wrote his breakthrough songs and later formed his own record label when he felt underserved by Nashville. He relished being an outsider and doing things his way. Proudly patriotic, he didn’t mind if his clear-cut convictions ruffled your feathers. For three decades, he reflected the defiant strength of the country music audience. His memory will continue to stand tall."

Music Stars Share Fond Memories of Toby Keith, Who Died Today at Age 62

2911 Media Press Release

Country music singer Toby Keith has died at age 62.

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage,” according to a statement on his website.

The “Shock’n Y’all” and “Red Solo Cup” singer had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and started treatments in fall 2021. He had surgery and received chemotherapy and radiation in the course of his cancer battle.

The Oak Ridge Boys said, “Toby Keith has gone home. This is very sad news. We loved and respected him on every level and whispered many a prayer for him as he fought this illness. God must have needed a big-hearted Oklahoma singing boy for the great choir. Well, he got one. RIP Toby Keith.”

Don McLean said, “I admire the way Toby battled this awful illness. He released new music, and he was on stage at the end. There is nothing coming along to replace people like him."

Lee Greenwood said, “Toby Keith did things his way – amazing artist, songwriter, patriot, and man of faith. I admired him and how he rolled. He and I shared a deep love for our military, and I’m proud that he took his music to dangerous places in order to give the American spirit to those protecting freedom. I was pleased he called me the OG and was honored to work with him a few times through the years. Please join our family in praying for the Keith family. I am confident that Toby was met at the pearly gates by patriots who have gone before and is resting in the arms of Jesus.”

Crystal Gayle said, “It’s heartbreaking to lose Toby Keith. I’ve always been a big fan of Toby and his music, and I’ll always treasure singing with him. Toby was a great American.”

Chapel Hart said, "Toby was the embodiment of God, family and country … and had a way of making you stand up a little taller when singing about (or honoring) our service men and women. We are better country music artists because of the life and legacy of Toby Keith. Rest well, brother, may your music and legacy live on forever!"

T.G. Sheppard said, “It’s always sad when hearing that one of our great talents has left for home. He was truly one of the most talented singer/songwriters ever to grace a stage. Hearing his voice and music through the years always brought a smile to my face. Kelly and I have often prayed for him since hearing of his diagnosis. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and legions of fans all over the world. R.I.P. Toby.”

Moe Bandy said, “What a loss to our music. A great talent with a big heart. Everybody loved Toby. RIP.”

Janie Fricke said, “Toby has been a great talent and image in the music business and will be respected and remembered forever.”

T. Graham Brown said, “Toby was a true American success story and never forgot what America stands for. He was an icon. God bless his family at this sorrowful time. R.I.P.”

Johnny Lee said, “I have always enjoyed Toby Keith’s music throughout the years. He’s always been a patriot with his continued support for our military. This one hits hard for sure!”

Heath Wright (RICOCHET) said, “I knew Toby from back in our Oklahoma nightclub days. He was the leader of the Easy Money band, and I remember looking up to him as a band leader even back then. I think the thing I admired most about him is that he did things his own way and made no apologies for it! I’m told that he came out to the last show we performed in Grove, Oklahoma, but had to leave before we came off stage. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or tell him how much I’ve looked up to him over the years. I hope he knew. Rest in peace, my Oklahoma brother!”

Lacy J. Dalton said, "I didn't know Toby, but he had so many people who loved him, and I'm very sorry to hear of his passing."

Artimus Pyle said, “Toby Keith was relatable to fans from all genres. This is a loss we will all feel for a long time. He fought a true fight and has been an inspiration to us all.”

Dallas Wayne said, “Toby Keith was as tough as the oilfields of Oklahoma with the soul of a poet. He fought his battle with cancer with the same toughness, grace, and resolve the same way he approached his craft of songwriting. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Tim Atwood said, “The story that will forever define Toby Keith for me is very personal. My son, Torre, was serving his first tour in Iraq – stationed in a remote area on the outskirts of Samarra in a very volatile area. Toby came to Iraq to entertain our troops. However, after several shows, Toby said he wanted to entertain those men who were isolated. Toby was told of a small group of men in ‘No Man's Land,’ but was strongly advised not to go there. It was too dangerous. Toby insisted. He didn't want to endanger the lives of other musicians and entertainers, so he went alone. But for a few hours, Toby and his guitar brought a piece of America to a handful of Americans who needed a reminder that they were not forgotten. I will always love Toby Keith for the morale boost he gave my son when he needed it most. I will always remember him as a man of character.”

Makenzie Phipps said, “It’s a sad day for country music. Toby Keith has always been a favorite of mine, from being as young as 9, hearing ‘Red Solo Cup’ every Christmas, to growing up and becoming an even bigger fan of his listening to his cowboy songs. I also truly admired his adoration and appreciation for the military. You will be missed, sir. Raise a glass for us all up there.”

Paige King Johnson said, “As a ’90s kid, Toby Keith was a lot of the soundtrack of my childhood. I sang along to many of his songs from the back seat of my mom’s car and fell in love with his spirit for the words he was singing and the people he was singing for. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends as they navigate these next few weeks and months without him. He fought a good fight and will be missed!”

Joey Canyon (Canyon Star TV) said, “Toby Keith epitomized what real country music is all about. His heart for this country was true ‘Red, White, and Blue.’ "

Will Wesley said, “When Toby Keith died, a piece of my childhood died with him. His music has been the soundtrack of my life. Today, we lost a true icon, and he will be missed.”

Levi Riggs said, “Toby Keith owned the radio airwaves when I was a kid. ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue’ was one of his boldest moves as an artist. I love that song and appreciate him always speaking his mind. Cancer is indiscriminate. We’ll miss him.”

Toby Keith's Friends & Peers Reflect on His Passing

Adkins Publicity Press Release

Bill Anderson said, “I never got the chance to know Toby as well as I would have liked to, but I always enjoyed his company and certainly admired his talent. I wish I could have written a song or two with him ... he was a great writer as well as performer. … He gave us a lot of good music and left us with a lot of good memories. May he rest in peace.”

Darci Lynne said, "I was perhaps a little young to appreciate the magnitude of Toby’s influence in the music industry when I first met him. He was so gentle and kind. It was such an amazing blessing to perform together in my Christmas special in 2018. That’s something I will cherish forever. He leaves a legacy that my generation is so lucky to draw inspiration from. Rest easy, Toby. My prayers are with his wonderful family."

Brady Seals said, “Toby and I were label mates when I was with Hot Apple Pie. We all looked up to him for his support of our troops. He was always a straight-shooter and very encouraging. Rest in peace, my brother.” 

The Imaginaries said, “We’re very saddened to hear about the passing of fellow Oklahoman, Toby Keith. He was a great man with an amazing talent and will be surely missed. Toby was always so kind, supportive, and encouraging to us and other musicians. We’re grateful for the time he poured into us, sharing his story of how he almost gave up on his music career, and how he encouraged us to keep up the fight. We’re honored to have had the opportunity to share the stage with him, and send our deepest condolences to his sweet wife, Tricia, and the entire family.”

Marty Raybon (Shenandoah) said, "You would have rather heard how Toby Keith beat cancer this morning as the broadcasts carry the news of his passing. What I knew was that he was a patriot and expressed it in his music and conversation. His love for our country. The realization of his mortality. His decision to trust and follow Christ made him more than a cowboy last night. Condolences to Tricia, and his family. RIP, TK" 

The Bellamy Brothers said, “Toby Keith was a complete original and, like everyone, we’ll miss him and his music. God bless his family and may he rest in peace.”

Gene Watson said, "I admired his independence as a singer, songwriter and businessman. Toby Keith did it his way. My sincere condolences to his family and to his many fans around the world."

Taylor Hicks said, “Toby was an entertainer’s entertainer. Not only did he have career songs to sing, he could have an arena in the palm of his hand. TK will be missed, but not forgotten.”

Phil Vassar said, "Toby radiated boundless energy, genuine warmth, and extraordinary talent as a songwriter. His support for the military was not just commendable but deeply inspiring. He was a great guy whose contributions will always be respected and remembered fondly."

Flat River Band said, “Toby Keith’s patriotism, charisma and talent will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, buddy.”

Alabama, Ronnie Milsap, Aaron Lewis, Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, The Kentucky Headhunters Remember Toby Keith 

Absolute Publicity Press Release

More country music stars are remembering Toby Keith following the news of his passing.

Randy Owen (Alabama) said, "Toby was a real friend. I looked forward to visiting with him every time we talked together. A true superstar who was down to earth. His last email to Kelly and I broke our hearts. I loved Toby. I will miss his larger-than-life personality. To his family, I send my prayers for comfort in this loss of my friend."

Teddy Gentry (Alabama) said, “Very few artists have the trifecta of excellent songwriter, excellent singer and a big heart for other people. Toby had all three. He also is one of the great American heroes that I have, personally.”

Ronnie Milsap said, "I woke up this morning and heard the bad news. Our country music family has lost a monster singer, songwriter, entertainer and a true American patriot in TOBY KEITH! I loved him as a friend and will miss him greatly! Rest in peace, Toby."

Aaron Lewis said, “Toby Keith wasn’t only an amazing singer-songwriter, a pioneer of truth-telling and a legend in his own right, but he was also a lover of God and country. And above all, a patriot. God bless Toby Keith and his family. Sending thoughts and prayers to his family and millions of fans around the world.”

Collin Raye said, "My heart is deeply saddened today at the news of my friend Toby Keith's passing. Toby was a good man, a kind man and a wonderful artist and songwriter. Toby stood for good things. He has now left his physical suffering behind and has passed on to The Heavenly Realm. He will be very missed here. May God be with you, brother."

Sammy Kershaw said, "Toby was an amazing singer-songwriter. We got started together around the same time when we were labelmates at Mercury Records. I'm glad to see the outpouring of love for a great guy. And man, did he love my hot chicken! He was blessed and now God is blessing him again."

Richard Young (The Kentucky Headhunters) said, "I met Toby for the first time when Mercury Records president Harold Shedd asked me to attend a showcase for Toby and two other acts he had just signed to the label. Toby had a great sense of humor and, through the years, would show up at our shows out of the blue and jump on stage with us to sing 'Dumas Walker!' He just loved to surprise people and have fun. I especially remember one time in New York City, which was about as far from Oklahoma and Kentucky as you can get, we were playing the Lone Star Roadhouse. And out nowhere, here comes Toby out of the audience and jumped on stage! I always loved the fact that he was a country act but was not afraid to add a horn section to his songs and live show. He broke a few rules but made certain things were OK for those who came after him."

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