Country Music Star Toby Keith Dies at 62

( – On Feb. 5, country music star Toby Keith, 62, died “peacefully surrounded by his family.

Keith had been battling stomach cancer since 2021. According to a statement on his website and social media account, Keith “fought his fight with grace and courage.”

Before his career as a singer took off, Keith worked in Oklahoma as a roughneck in the oil fields. The 6-foot-4 country music legend also played for a few seasons for a semi-pro football team in the now-defunct United States Football League, the Oklahoma City Drillers, as a defensive end.

He was first signed by Mercury Records head Harold Shedd and in 1993, his self-titled, platinum debut album “Toby Keith” was released, featuring the song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” The song, played on radio stations 3 million times, became one of the most-played country songs of the 1990s.

Despite having a record deal, Keith told AP that he “was living a miserable existence,” adding that people were “trying to mold me into something I was not” and pushing him to take his music in a different direction. Then, in 1999, he signed with DreamWorks Records where he had his first song to crossover to the Top 40 charts, “How Do You Like Me Now?!”

At the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2001, Keith took home both the Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year awards. In 2005, Keith and record executive Scott Borchetta launched the record label Show Dog, later renamed Show Dog-Universal Music. In 2015, Keith was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was honored in 2022 with the BMI Icon Award by the performance rights organization BMI.

Over the years, Keith played at events for former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama, and, in 2021, former President Donald Trump gave Keith a National Medal of the Arts.

Keith is best known for his patriotic songs and also went on 11 USO tours, playing for the troops stationed overseas.

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