The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Patriotism in every note

Remembering Toby Keith

Toby Keith, his name synonymous with country music, left a distinct mark on the music industry with his signature voice, heartfelt songs, and unwavering patriotism. When headlines on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 6 announced the death of one of America’s most beloved country singers, fans were in disbelief. 

The country star’s death came only a year and a half after Keith revealed that he was undergoing treatments for stomach cancer. 

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family,” a post on Toby Keith’s website stated. “He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

From humble beginnings in Clinton, Oklahoma, Keith fell in love with music when his grandmother gifted him his first guitar at the age of eight. Little did that eight-year-old know that in the span of his life, heKeith would go on to release 21 studio albums and 69 singles, including 20 number-one hits.

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“He began writing music as a teen, inspired by Willie Nelson and the Eagles, among others,” People reported. 

After graduating high school in 1979, Keith went to work in the oil fields, performed in local bars, and played defense for the semi professional football team, the Oklahoma City Drillers. While he was working in the oil fields by day and playing his guitar at night, Keith met his future wife, Tricia Lucas. 

“The couple dated for three years, married in 1984, and welcomed two children,” People stated. 

Once the oil fields “went bust,” Keith started to concentrate more fully on his music. In the 1990s, Keith signed a deal with Mercury Records. In 1994, his first and self-titled album was certified platinum. 

His albums that followed, such as “Boomtown” and “Blue Moon,” were also successful in the spotlight. Grammy nominations and awards at both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association further solidified his stardom in the field of country music. 

The year of 2001 was an emotional period for the country star. In March, Keith unexpectedly lost his father after a charter bus collided with his car. The grief resulting from his father’s death combined with the tragic events of September 11 inspired Keith to write one of his most powerful and controversial songs; the song that became the pinnacle of his career, “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).”

“Released in May 2002, the song anchored his 2002 album “Unleashed” and is now a multi-platinum track. “Unleashed” became Keith’s first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and included a hit duet with Willie Nelson, “Beer for My Horses.” The tune was nominated for two Grammys: Best Country Song and Best Country Collaboration With Vocals,” Biography stated. 

Toby Keith’s unwavering patriotism became a defining aspect of his life and musical career and was evident in his songs and albums that followed the commercial success of “Unleashed.” It was because of this patriotism and admiration for military personnel that Keith made some life-threatening stops during his musical career. 

“In April 2008, he played 18 shows for U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf as part of a U.S.O. Tour. Keith even had to pause during one of his performances because of mortar fire, but he returned to the stage after the attack stopped,” Biography detailed. 

In Jan. 2021, Keith was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Trump. Later that year, the country star released what would be his final original album, “Peso in My Pocket.”

Toby Keith announced in June 2022 that he had been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer since the fall of 2021. 

“He underwent surgery and received chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the course of six months. Still, he was eager to begin performing again. ‘I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait,’” Biography quoted the singer. 

Following his initial announcement of his prognosis, Keith continued to update fans, letting them know that the treatments seemed to be working, his tumor had shrunk by a third  of its original size by June 2023. 

In September 2023, the musician received the Country Music Icon Award and sang “Don’t Let the Old Man In” for his first live performance since the announcement of his diagnosis. 

“He also played at Park MGM in Las Vegas for three nights that December. However, his improved health didn’t last,” Biography stated. 

Keith passed away “peacefully” on the night of Feb. 5, 2024, after his bravely fought battle with stomach cancer. The unexpected death of the 62-year-old country star rocked the nation, with hundreds of thousands of people rushing to make known their shock and send their condolences to Keith’s family. 

Though the beloved country star is now gone, he leaves behind an everlasting imprint on the country and music industry, through his patriotic and powerful songs. 

For more information about Toby Keith and his legacy, please visit,,,1984%20and%20welcomed%20two%20children, and

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Lainey Vollmer
Lainey Vollmer, Staff Writer

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