After the news of Toby Keith’s death broke overnight, reactions from the stars of the country music world and beyond followed, as some legendary figures and admirers of the late Nashville star began to share tributes online.
Keith “passed peacefully last night on Feb. 5, surrounded by his family,” read his official website’s announcement of his death; he was 62. The news came two years after the singer posted about his stomach cancer diagnosis on his official Instagram page.
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His Instagram page is where many are directing their reactions and condolences following the news. “God Bless you and Family,” singer Randy Houser commented. “Hard to imagine an America without Toby Keith in it.”
Actor Stephen Baldwin commented, “Wow this announcement has totally taken my breath away. I’ve been praying for Toby and it is truly wonderful to know he is finally home praise Jesus” and Georgia-based singer-songwriter Channing Wilson wrote, “Hate to hear this. You fought hard brother. Prayers for his family. RIPTK.”
Country group Old Dominion shared the frequent sentiment that Keith, whose country hits include “Who’s Your Daddy?,” “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,””Beer for My Horses” and “Made in America,” was a one-of-a-kind figure in the Nashville scene.
“Toby Keith was a true trailblazer. Authentic and heartfelt but always with a wink ‘til the end. He was larger than life in so many ways and his music will live on forever! Raising our red solos tonight — you will be missed by so many. Peace.”
Channeling Keith’s rowdy stage persona, country music sensation Carrie Underwood wrote a boisterous tribute to Keith on Instagram: “Saddle up the horses, Jesus, ‘cause a true blue COWBOY just made his ride up to heaven!!!” Underwood wrote. “Introduce him to all the Okies and sign that boy up for the choir! We’re gonna miss you, Toby, but my heart has no doubt that you are standing in the presence of our King right now!!! See you again someday, friend.”
Legends of the country music world reflected on Keith’s life and career in statements sent to THR as the news spread on Tuesday. “American Pie” singer Don McLean praised Keith’s perseverance through his illness, saying, “I admire the way Toby battled this awful illness. He released new music, and he was on stage at the end. There is nothing coming along to replace people like him.” And veteran country singer Crystal Gale said of his death: “It’s heartbreaking to lose Toby Keith. I’ve always been a big fan of Toby and his music, and I’ll always treasure singing with him. Toby was a great American.”
Billy Ray Cyrus, who in the 1990s rose to fame in tandem with Keith, reflected on the country star in a press release sent to THR on Tuesday.
“Stood me still with emotion and memories to see and hear of the loss of my friend…the legend…Toby Keith. Heart breaking with thoughts and prayers for his fans and family this morning,” Cyrus wrote. “We toured together several times around the globe. He was always the kindest…sweetest gentle giant of an outlaw one could ever hope to entertain and make music with. Raising a Red Cup this morning and saying a prayer. Heavens a honkytonk tonight.”
Offline, Keith’s death has been a top story on the network and cable news morning shows. Kid Rock sang Keith’s praises on Fox and Friends this morning: “He was such an incredible talent, and he loved his family like he loved his country. And we should not forget what a fun guy he was.”
Politicians from the South and Midwest even chimed in on the legend’s death. Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn took time to honor Keith, calling him a “great American,” and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote: “America lost a legend today. Toby Keith helped make Oklahoma the coolest place in the nation. His legacy will forever be in the hearts of Oklahomans and fans around the world — I know his spirit will live on. Sarah and I offer our condolences to Toby’s family.”
Elsewhere on X (formerly Twitter), John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich wrote of Keith’s huge personality — which certainly caught the media’s attention over his decades-long career, as he wasn’t one to mince words on American politics or shy away from a public feud.
“Waking up to the terrible news that our friend, and legend @tobykeith has passed away from cancer. He was a true Patriot, a first class singer/songwriter, and a bigger-than-life kind of guy. He will be greatly missed,” the country star wrote.
Sharing condolences on X, the account for country music’s TV network shared that “CMT is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of country legend Toby Keith. Our hearts go out to his wife, Tricia, his children, and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Former first son Donald Trump, Jr. wrote on X, “Ugh. We lost a legend this week. R.I.P. Toby Keith.” While the country star was outspoken about politics and his love for America throughout his career, his political affiliations shifted over the years. In 2017, he performed at then-President Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
Country icon Reba McEntire also chimed in with her condolences, telling People on Tuesday, “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.” She added, “He was a great writer, a great singer. When Toby came on the radio, you knew who that was. Toby Keith was a distinctive vocalist, a stylist, that you knew exactly who he was. So, that’s a wonderful trait to have.”
See the tributes as they come in, below:
Waking up to the terrible news that our friend, and legend @tobykeith has passed away from cancer. He was a true Patriot, a first class singer/songwriter, and a bigger than life kind of guy. He will be greatly missed.
— John Rich🇺🇸 (@johnrich) February 6, 2024
Toby Keith brought joy to millions around the world through his music, especially to our men and women in uniform.
He was a great American and an exceptional storyteller who will be deeply missed in country music.
Raise your ‘Red Solo Cup’ to Toby for a life well-lived. https://t.co/aOaI9R9rbn
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 6, 2024
America lost a legend today. Toby Keith helped make Oklahoma the coolest place in the nation.
His legacy will forever be in the hearts of Oklahomans and fans around the world— I know his spirit will live on.
Sarah and I offer our condolences to Toby’s family. pic.twitter.com/pdb7WhbZu4
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) February 6, 2024
Ugh. We lost a legend this week. R.I.P Toby Keith. pic.twitter.com/1qIrem9iJK
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 6, 2024
Toby Keith was a true trail blazer. Authentic and heartfelt but always with a wink ‘til the end. He was larger than life in so many ways and his music will live on forever! Raising our red solos tonight—you will be missed by so many. Peace. pic.twitter.com/TJB5dUy67K
— Old Dominion (@OldDominion) February 6, 2024
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