In Memory of Country Music Legend Toby Keith 

Toby Keith Performing in 2019. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

By: Hannah Lanting 

In the thick of February rain storms and cloudy days, it’s easy to sit around and dream of the warm summer days to come. Thoughts of sun tanning, hot dogs fresh off the barbeque, juicy watermelon and Fourth of July fireworks feel like distant memories. But for many, this year’s Fourth of July is going to be celebrated with an undertone of sorrow as country music legend Toby Keith, whose voice has been a symbol of American pride for years, has passed at age 62 of stomach cancer. 

On the morning of Feb. 5, people across the United States woke up to the news that the country music legend had died. The “I Love This Bar” singer announced back in 2022 that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. In the years following, fans watched with heavy hearts as the country music star slowly began to wither away. 

Soon after announcing his health struggles to the public, Keith in an interview with a local Oklahoma News Station, said that it was his Christian faith that had been helping him in navigating his newfound challenges. 

Fellow country music star and long-time friend of Keith, Carrie Underwood, took to social media last night in an emotional goodbye post. Saying, “Saddle up the horses, Jesus, ‘cause a true blue COWBOY just made his ride up to heaven.” In the comment section, a slew of heartwarming messages were dedicated to the late legend.

Underwood was not the only big name to take to social media about Keith’s passing. Luke Combs, Zach Bryan and Morgan Wallen are just a few who have expressed their sorrows on social media. Showing that this man truly was beloved by his community. 

However, the Oklahoma-born singer was no stranger to controversy. In 2003, Keith received backlash for showing an image of the then President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, at his concert. To which he responded in an interview with Country Music Television with, “I’m embarrassed about the way I let myself get sucked into all that.” 

One song of Keith’s in particular that has a history of stirring up controversy, is the classic “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).” This song was a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and sparked a very public feud with Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines. In an interview with BBC, Maines said the song was “ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant.” 

The fact of the matter is Keith’s career was riddled with accomplishments. Having released 21 studio albums, 42 Top-10 hits, and receiving the People’s Choice 2023 Country Icon award, there is no doubt the country music industry would not have been the same without him.