Country music fans around the world are lifting their Red Solo Cups to the legendary singer and songwriter Toby Keith, who died on Monday night. He was 62 years old.
Keith’s death came 18 months after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The country singer earlier said he’d been receiving chemotherapy, radiation treatment and undergoing surgery to treat his cancer.
According to a statement posted to the artist’s social media accounts, Keith “passed peacefully” while surrounded by his family members.
“He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time,” the brief statement read.
Keith was a giant within the country music scene and, according to his website, released 32 No. 1 songs, including Red Solo Cup, Should’ve Been A Cowboy and How Do You Like Me Now!?
Despite his cancer diagnosis, Keith continued to perform on occasion for his dedicated fanbase.
In December, Keith performed three nights at the Dolby Live at Park MGM in Las Vegas. Though he was visibly thinner, Keith celebrated his musical legacy with his fanbase, raising toasts and singing out in his iconic, folksy timbre.
Keith released his latest album, 100% Songwriter, in November. The 13-track album featured a compilation of songs that Keith wrote entirely alone, including his latest single, Don’t Let The Old Man In.
Born in Clinton, Okla., the famed country singer had a reputation as a pro-American, rough-around-the-edges type. Since the 1993 release of his first single Should’ve Been a Cowboy, Keith’s voice has been a staple in honky-tonk bars in the U.S. and Canada.
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Many of Keith’s songs featured lyrics about blue-collar work and Southern values. In his song Courtesy of The Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American), Keith sang, “My daddy served in the army / Where he lost his right eye / But he flew a flag out in our yard / ‘Til the day that he died.” The song was written in response to the 9/11 attacks and painted the U.S. as a “big dog” that would “put a boot in your ass” in retaliation.
Keith, who was always staunch about freedom of speech and political expression, also wrote music for and about U.S. military troops. He made numerous trips to the Middle East to perform for American soldiers.
Keith is remembered by many for his infamous feud with The Chicks (formerly called the Dixie Chicks). The tension between artists began after singer Natalie Maines criticized then–President George W. Bush, and called Keith’s Courtesy of The Red, White, and Blue “ignorant.” Keith responded by showing a doctored photo of Maines with Saddam Hussein at his concerts.
News of the country singer’s death has already triggered an outpouring of sympathy online.
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Country singer Jason Aldean said it is a “sad day for Country music and its fans.”
“Toby was a huge presence in our business and someone we all looked up to and respected,” Aldean wrote on X. “You and your music will be forever remembered big man.”
Donald Trump Jr. shared a photo with Keith and wrote, “We lost a legend this week.”
Country singer Zach Bryan reminisced about listening to Keith in his father’s car and said the news of the singer’s death was “really hard.”
Keith is survived by his wife, Tricia Lucus, and their three children.
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