Country music legend Toby Keith has passed away at the age of 62, as confirmed by his official website and social media channels. The iconic “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer fought a valiant battle against stomach cancer, a struggle he bravely shared with the public 18 months ago.
Keith’s family revealed that he peacefully departed on Monday night, surrounded by loved ones. The brief statement honoring him noted his fight, emphasizing the grace and courage with which he confronted the challenges of his illness.
Having disclosed his cancer diagnosis in June 2022, Keith openly discussed the tumultuous journey of undergoing treatment, describing the experience as a “roller coaster” during a September interview with E! News. Despite the highs and lows, the artist continued to perform and record, showcasing his enduring talent during three live nights in Las Vegas in December.
The singer, visibly thinner but with an unwavering voice, delivered numerous chart-topping hits, marking a triumphant end to the year. Keith’s Instagram post celebrated the success of the sold-out Vegas shows, signifying a fitting conclusion to 2023.
In June 2022, Keith shared his medical journey, including chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery, with The Oklahoman newspaper. He revealed that the tumor had shrunk by a third, reflecting his resilience and determination.
Born in Clinton, Oklahoma, and raised in Moore, Keith rose to country music stardom in the early 1990s, becoming an enduring icon of the genre. With estimates ranging from 25 million to 30 million records sold in the U.S. and over 10 billion digital streaming plays, Keith’s impact on country music was unparalleled.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum paid tribute to Keith’s distinctly American story—a former roughneck oil worker who carved his space in country music with a sinewy voice and an unwavering will to succeed. Known for his outsider approach, Keith proudly did things his way, reflecting the defiant strength of the country music audience over three decades.
One of Keith’s memorable songs, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” stirred controversy in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks. The patriotic anthem, embodying Keith’s clear-cut convictions, triggered a feud with the Dixie Chicks. Despite disagreements, Keith’s legacy remains an integral part of the country music narrative.
His most recent album, “100% Songwriter,” released in November, stands as a testament to Keith’s enduring creativity. From his breakthrough single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” to hits like “Beer for My Horses” and “Red Solo Cup,” Toby Keith’s contributions to country music will be remembered and cherished by fans worldwide.
Sources: NBC News