Friends, Fans, And Colleagues Celebrate Toby Keith

Friends, Fans, And Colleagues Celebrate Toby Keith

The Feb. 5 passing of singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith at the age of 62 has been followed by an overwhelming outpouring of love and celebration of the man and his music. Across mainstream and social media, everyone from fellow artists and celebrities to his children have shared a range of emotion and memories. Among them:

“Saddle up the horses, Jesus, ’cause a true blue COWBOY just made his ride up to heaven!!! 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.” –Carrie Underwood

“Cancer truly touches us all. Rest in peace, Toby Keith.” –Dr. Jill Biden

During a private performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Luke Combs covered “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” “I’m glad you guys asked, because we didn’t know if we should do a Toby song,” Combs said. “It’s good to know you love Toby’s music as much as we do.”

“Toby and I got to know each other pretty well early in our career.,” Tim McGraw said ahead of dedicating his “Live Like You Were Dying” to Keith. “We spent a lot of time hanging out on the bus, played some shows together … having to guard him in basketball. It wasn’t a lot of fun because he beat the s— out of you. But he was a really, really good guy, a great artist and I always respected how he did things his way and didn’t care what anybody thought. So bear with me if I don’t get through it, you guys help me out, but I want to dedicate this song to Toby and his family.”

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert, an unlikely but fast friend with Keith, offered perhaps the most poignant remembrance. “Toby taught me not to judge people too quickly,” Colbert said in part. “And with his passing, I’m gonna try to remember that again. It’s something we all need to remember … More and more of us are angrier and angrier with each other. But tonight, I will issue this invitation to anybody. I do not care who you are. I will meet you at this place. I will meet you at being broken-hearted that Toby Keith is gone. Thank you, Big Dog.” View the full clip above.

Of course, the greatest recognition of Keith’s public influence has been via his music, with Forbes reporting he had “the biggest week of his career” posthumously. His 35 Biggest Hits collection was the No. 1 album on the Billboard Top 200 the week of February 12. Reaching that pinnacle puts him in rarified company of artists who’ve topped the all-genre album chart while active and also posthumously – adding him to the short list of Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Elvis Presley, according to Forbes.

Naturally, the album also topped Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart. Keith also broke records to become the first artist to have nine of the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Country Digital Songs Sales chart for the week – putting him in the ranks of Kenny Rogers and Taylor Swift, who have both previously landed seven songs in the top 10. He also had 12 of the top 15 – five of which he wrote by himself. They are:

1. “Don’t Let The Old Man In”
3. “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”
4. “Courtesy Of The Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”
5. “How Do You Like Me Now?!”
6. “As Good As I Once Was”
7. “Beer For My Horses”
8. “I Love This Bar”
9. “American Soldier”
10. “Red Solo Cup”
12. “I Wanna Talk About Me”
13. “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This”
15. “Wish I Didn’t Know Now”

Keith’s songs also peppered Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart, and he was No. 1 on the Top Country Songwriters chart for the week. Fan interest in his music has carried over into the current week, as well, with 35 Biggest Hits at No. 2 on Top Country Albums. Nine of the top 15 on Country Digital Songs Sales are Keith’s, led by No. 3 “Don’t Let The Old Man In.”

Memorialized privately by close family and friends last week in Oklahoma, Keith has been celebrated the world over via his music. Plans for a public memorial will be forthcoming.

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About Jerry Holthouse

Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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