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Acclaimed country singer-songwriter Toby Keith has died after battling stomach cancer

Toby Keith at the 2010 American Country Awards Press Room, MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. 12-06-10. (Shutterstock)

CASPER, Wyo. — Singer-songwriter Toby Keith has died at age 62 after a battle with stomach cancer.

According to the Associated Press, Keith’s death was announced in a statement on his website and on his social media accounts.

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by family,” the statement said. “He fought his fight with grace and courage.”

A towering singer with a booming voice and a talent for clever lyrics, Keith’s combination of rock and traditional honky-tonk earned him 20 number-one hits on the country charts and an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

According to the New York Times, Keith worked as a roughneck in Oklahoma oil fields, played semipro football and worked as a rodeo hand before signing his first record deal in the early 1990s. His first number-one single, “Should Have Been a Cowboy,” was released in 1993.

Included among his many hits was the popular barroom-style duet with legend Willie Nelson, “Beer for My Horses,” and the patriotic anthem “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” a response to the 9/11 attacks that became a crossover pop hit in 2002. The following year, he released a song called “If I Was Jesus” that took a witty and nuanced look at Christian theology, examining God’s embrace of society’s outcasts and misfits.

Keith was scheduled to perform in Casper in October 2021, but canceled in September. The following year he announced on social media that he had been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer since fall 2021. Previously, Keith had performed in Casper at the Casper Events Center in 2003, with opening act Rascal Flatts. At the time it was considered the largest musical act at the venue since Garth Brooks performed two shows in 1998 and Pearl Jam performed in 1995.

Keith was married to Tricia Lucus, is the father of three children and has four grandchildren.