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Blake Shelton Remembers Toby Keith Following His Death at 62: 'You Were the Toughest Man I Ever Met'

The "Austin" singer remembered his late friend following his death on Monday

<p>Isaac Brekken/Getty</p> Toby Keith and Blake Shelton in April 2018 in Las Vegas

Isaac Brekken/Getty

Toby Keith and Blake Shelton in April 2018 in Las Vegas

Blake Shelton is remembering friend and country icon Toby Keith.

After Keith "passed peacefully" at age 62 on Monday night, Shelton remembered the country icon on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“Even though I knew about your battle these last few months I still never imagined this day. Anyone who knew you knows what I mean,” wrote the 47-year-old singer on Tuesday. “You were the toughest man I ever met.”

"Thank you brother for being a friend, a hero and an inspiration. There will never be another Toby Keith,” concluded the fellow Oklahoma native.

<p>Jason Kempin/ACMA2018/Getty</p> Toby Keith and Blake Shelton perform in April 2018 in Las Vegas

Jason Kempin/ACMA2018/Getty

Toby Keith and Blake Shelton perform in April 2018 in Las Vegas

During the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards last September, Shelton presented Keith with the country music icon award.

At the time, Keith told PEOPLE that he had known Shelton “forever.”

“I took him out when I first got headliner status early on and I was his first big tour he got,” said the late musician.

“He lived in Oklahoma, so we're kindred spirits, a lot alike,” Keith added. “We have fun together.”

Related: Toby Keith Dead at 62 Following Stomach Cancer Diagnosis: 'Passed Peacefully'

<p>Mickey Bernal/NBC via Getty</p> Toby Keith and Blake Shelton during the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville in September 2023

Mickey Bernal/NBC via Getty

Toby Keith and Blake Shelton during the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville in September 2023

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Along with Shelton, several more country music stars mourned the loss of the icon — including Carrie UnderwoodDolly PartonJason AldeanOld DominionLuke BryanJelly RollZach BryanDan + Shay and Luke Combs, as well as Reba McEntire and Chuck Wicks.

McEntire told PEOPLE, "We're going to miss him so much, not only as a friend but a fellow performer and person in the music business and from Oklahoma.”

"But he doesn't have to fight anymore, and he doesn't have to hurt anymore," the 68-year-old singer added. "I hope one day to get to see him up in Heaven. Thank God we have his wonderful music to keep us company, even though he's not here on earth with us."

Related: Toby Keith Accepts 2023 PCCA Country Music Icon Award and Jokes 'Thought You'd Never See Me in Skinny Jeans'

<p>KMazur/WireImage</p> Reba McEntire and Toby Keith in January 2004

KMazur/WireImage

Reba McEntire and Toby Keith in January 2004

"Well, I'm like any other fan, right? I love Toby Keith. I loved his music, grew up with his music,” Wicks, 44, told PEOPLE on Tuesday. "He was always bigger than life. And I think that's what people loved about him so much is, he's this big guy up there, bigger than life guy singing hit song after hit song."

Throughout his decades-long career, Keith captivated audiences with chart-topping country hits, including "Should've Been a Cowboy," "I Love This Bar," "As Good as I Once Was," and "Made in America," among others.

<p>Mediapunch/Shutterstock</p> Toby Keith performs in Connecticut in September 2012

Mediapunch/Shutterstock

Toby Keith performs in Connecticut in September 2012

Related: Toby Keith's Life in Photos

Keith’s family confirmed he had "passed peacefully" after being diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021. Keith's family shared news of his death in a social media post.

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