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Toby Keith spent the '90s as a solid, workmanlike country star who met with considerable chart success, yet never quite broke free of the neo-traditionalist pack to become a household name like Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson. That all changed in 2002 when he recorded "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a response to September 11 that became one of country's most highly charged political statements since Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee." The media furor ensured that even people with no knowledge of country music still knew him as "the guy with the 'boot in the ass' song," and helped make Keith a genuine phenomenon. Yet he'd been recording for nearly a decade prior and already had several chart-topping country singles to his credit.
Keith was born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Oklahoma, in 1961 and grew up mostly on a farm in Moore, near the outskirts of Oklahoma City. He took up guitar at age eight, inspired by the country musicians who played at the supper club his grandmother ran. He listened to his father's Bob Wills records and fell in love with Haggard's music. He worked as a rodeo hand while in high school, and after graduation, he found work in the nearby oil fields. In the meantime, he formed the Easy Money Band and played Alabama-style country-rock in area honky tonks. After about three years, the oil industry hit a major downturn, and Keith turned to playing semipro football for a USFL farm team, even trying out (unsuccessfully) for the short-lived league's Oklahoma City franchise. Following two years as a football player, Keith decided to focus on music and adopted a much more rigorous touring schedule. He cut a few records for local indie labels, and his demo tape eventually found its way to onetime Alabama producer Harold Shedd, who helped Keith land a deal with Mercury.
Keith's self-titled debut album was released in 1993 and made him an out-of-the-box success with its chart-topping single "Should've Been a Cowboy." Three more songs from the record -- "Wish I Didn't Know Now," "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action," and "He Ain't Worth Missing" -- made the Top Five, and the album sold over two million copies. "Who's That Man," the lead single from his second album, Boomtown, was released in late 1994 and became his second number one; Boomtown hit stores in early 1995 and went gold on the strength of further Top Ten hits "Upstairs Downtown" and "You Ain't Much Fun." Keith followed it later that year with the holiday record Christmas to Christmas and returned with the proper album Blue Moon in 1996. Its first two singles, "A Woman's Touch" and "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You," went Top Ten, and the third, "Me Too," gave Keith his third number one, also helping the album go platinum. Released in 1997, Dream Walkin' marked his first collaboration with prolific producer James Stroud, with whom he would work regularly from then on. "We Were in Love" and the title track were both Top Five hits, as was "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying," a duet with Sting. However, Keith longed for an even bigger breakthrough, and he was growing dissatisfied with Mercury's promotional efforts. In 1999, he left the label and followed Stroud over to the Nashville division of DreamWorks.
Keith's label debut, How Do You Like Me Now?!, appeared in late 1999 and started to bring him the wider recognition he felt poised for. The title cut went to number one on the country charts and brought him his first Top 40 pop hit; its follow-up, "Country Comes to Town," went Top Five, and "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" also hit number one. Overall, the album had a rough, brash attitude that helped give Keith a stronger identity as a performer. It was also the first to bring him those long-desired major industry awards, when in 2001 the Academy of Country Music named him Male Vocalist of the Year and named How Do You Like Me Now?! its Album of the Year. In the meantime, Keith became more visible in the mainstream media, appearing in cameos on Touched by an Angel and in a Dukes of Hazzard TV reunion movie, as well as co-starring in a series of telephone commercials. Later in 2001, his follow-up album, Pull My Chain, became his first to top the country charts and also his first Top Ten pop album. It spun off three number one singles: "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight," "I Wanna Talk About Me," and "My List."
Keith was already a burgeoning superstar when he recorded "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" in the summer of 2002. A raging response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the song struck a fierce chord with aggressively patriotic listeners, while others condemned it as knee-jerk jingoism. The whole controversy came to a head when ABC News anchor Peter Jennings objected to Keith's scheduled performance on a network Fourth of July schedule. Keith was axed from the guest list, and the ensuing media flap proved to be a publicity coup. Meanwhile, the song went to number one on the country charts and crossed over into the pop Top 25. All of this set the stage for Unleashed, which sold like hotcakes upon its release later in 2002, debuting at number one on both the country and pop charts. "Who's Your Daddy?" was a number one country hit, and the Willie Nelson duet "Beer for My Horses" also made the country Top Ten.
In 2003 Keith released Shock'n Y'All, which, despite its title, was chock-full of enough rough-and-rowdy hits to once again connect hugely with heartland America. Honkytonk University followed in May 2005, the same year that Mercury released Chronicles, a collection of three of his biggest albums: Toby Keith, Boomtown, and Blue Moon. After departing from Universal and longtime producer Stroud, Keith established his own company, Show Dog Nashville, and in 2006 released the label's first record, the number two hit White Trash with Money. A year later he released Big Dog Daddy, the first album he produced himself, and also a holiday album, A Classic Christmas. Keith continued his steady pace over the next few years, releasing That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy in 2008, American Ride in 2009, and Bullets in the Gun in 2010. Clancy's Tavern, which appeared in 2011, was inspired by his grandmothers club, which he visited frequently as a child. Keith was also selected as Artist of the Decade at the American Country Awards in December of 2011. Clancy's Tavern gave Keith a pair of hits in "Made in America" and "Red Solo Cup" -- the former topped Billboard's country charts; the latter reached the Billboard Top 40 -- and in the fall of 2012 he returned with another new album, Hope on the Rocks, which was preceded by the single "I Like Girls That Drink Beer." Neither "I Like Girls That Drink Beer" or the album's second single "Hope on the Rocks" went further than 17 on the charts, and Keith soon returned with his 17th album, Drinks After Work. Released almost a year to the day after Hope on the Rocks, Drinks After Work appeared in late October 2013; it was preceded by the single release of its title track.
Toby Keith Covel (born July 8, 1961), best known as Toby Keith, is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Keith released his first four studio albums—1993's Toby Keith, 1994's Boomtown, 1996's Blue Moon and 1997's Dream Walkin', plus a Greatest Hits package for various divisions of Mercury Records before leaving Mercury in 1998. These albums all earned gold or higher certification, and produced several chart singles, including his debut "Should've Been a Cowboy", which topped the country charts and was the most played country song of the 1990s. The song has received three million spins since its release, according to Broadcast Music Incorporated.
Signed to DreamWorks Records Nashville in 1998, Keith released his breakthrough single "How Do You Like Me Now?!" that year. This song, the title track to his 1999 album of the same name, was the Number One country song of 2000, and one of several chart-toppers during his tenure on DreamWorks Nashville. His next three albums, Pull My Chain, Unleashed, and Shock'n Y'all, produced three more Number Ones each, and all of the albums were certified multi-platinum. A second Greatest Hits package followed in 2004, and after that, he released Honkytonk University.
When DreamWorks closed in 2005, Keith founded the label Show Dog Nashville, which merged with Universal South Records to become Show Dog-Universal Music in December 2009. He has released seven studio albums through Show Dog/Show Dog-Universal: 2006's White Trash with Money, 2007's Big Dog Daddy, 2008's That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, 2009's American Ride, 2010's Bullets in the Gun, 2011's Clancy's Tavern, 2012's Hope on the Rocks, and 2013's Drinks After Work, as well as the compilation 35 Biggest Hits in 2008. Keith also made his acting debut in 2006, starring in the film Broken Bridges and co-starred with comedian Rodney Carrington in the 2008 film Beer for My Horses.
Overall, Keith has released sixteen studio albums, two Christmas albums, and three compilation albums. He has also charted more than forty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including nineteen Number One hits and sixteen additional Top Ten hits. His longest-lasting Number One hits are "Beer for My Horses" (a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson) and "As Good as I Once Was" (2005), at six weeks each. He has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.Huey, Steve. "Toby Keith biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 July 2013. Shelburne, Craig (March 1, 2007), Toby Keith Jams, Notches 50 Million Airplays, CMT.com, retrieved April 9, 2010
Keith was born in Clinton, Oklahoma, the son of Carolyn Joan (née Ross) and Hubert K. Covel, Jr. He has a sister and a brother. The family lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for a few years when Keith was in grade school, but moved to Moore, Oklahoma (a suburb of Oklahoma City) when he was still young. Before the family moved to Moore, he visited his grandmother in Fort Smith during the summers. His grandmother owned Billie Garner's Supper Club in Fort Smith, where Keith became interested in the musicians who came there to play. He did odd jobs around the supper club and started getting up on the bandstand to play with the band. He got his first guitar at the age of eight. After the family moved to Moore, Keith attended Highland West Junior High and Moore High School, where he played defensive end on the football team.
Keith graduated from Moore High School and worked as a derrick hand in the oil fields. He worked his way up to become an operation manager. At the age of 20, he and his friends Scott Webb, Keith Cory, David "Yogi" Vowell and Danny Smith, with a few others, formed the Easy Money Band, which played at local bars as he continued to work in the oil industry. At times, he would have to leave in the middle of a concert if he was paged to work in the oil field.
In 1982, the oil industry in Oklahoma began a rapid decline and Keith soon found himself unemployed. He fell back on his football training and played defensive end with the semi-pro Oklahoma City Drillers while continuing to perform with his band. (The Drillers were an unofficial farm club of the United States Football League's Oklahoma Outlaws; Keith tried out for the Outlaws but did not make the team.) He then returned to focus once again on music. His family and friends were doubtful he would succeed, but, in 1984, Easy Money (various other band members included Mike Barnes, T.A. Brauer and David Saylors) began playing the honky tonk circuit in Oklahoma and Texas.Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Toby Keith". wargs.com. Retrieved 2008-09-12. "Toby Keith : Biography". Biography. cmt.com. Retrieved 2008-09-12. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
ContentsMusical career1.1 1993-95: Toby Keith and Boomtown1.2 1996-98: Blue Moon, Dream Walkin', and Greatest Hits Volume One1.3 1999-2002: How Do You Like Me Now?! and Pull My Chain1.4 2002-2004: Unleashed and Shock'n Y'all1.5 2005-present: After DreamWorks
In the early 1990s, Keith went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he hung out and busked on Music Row and at a place called Houndogs. He distributed copies of a demo tape the band had made to the many record companies in the city. There was no interest by any of the record labels, and Keith returned home feeling depressed. He had promised himself and God to have a recording contract by the time he was 30 years old or give up on music as a career. A flight attendant and fan of his gave a copy of Keith's demo tape to Harold Shedd, a Mercury Records executive, while he was traveling on a flight she was working. Shedd enjoyed what he heard, went to see Keith perform live and then signed him to a recording contract with Mercury.
1993-95: Toby Keith and Boomtown
His debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy", went to number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1993, in addition to reaching number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song led off his self-titled debut album. By the end of the decade, "Should've Been a Cowboy" received more than three million spins at radio, thus making it the most-played country song of the 1990s. Certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of one million copies, the album produced three more Top 5 hits on the country charts: "He Ain't Worth Missing" at number 5, followed by "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" (originally the B-side of "Should've Been a Cowboy") and "Wish I Didn't Know Now" both at number 2. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote of the album, "It is given a production that's a bit too big, clean, glossy and cavernous for Keith's good — it fits the outsized sound of early-'90s radio, but not his outsized talent — but beneath that sheen the songs are very strong." He also thought that it showed the signs of the style that Keith would develop on subsequent albums The album's success led to Keith touring with then-labelmates Shania Twain and John Brannen.
Keith was moved to Polydor Records Nashville and released his next album, Boomtown, in September 1994. Also certified platinum, this album was led off by the number 1 single "Who's That Man". After it, "Upstairs Downtown" and "You Ain't Much Fun" both made Top 10, while "Big Ol' Truck" peaked at number 15. At the end of 1995, he released his first Christmas album, Christmas to Christmas, via Mercury. The album, composed entirely of original songs, produced one chart entry in "Santa I'm Right Here", which reached as high as number 50 based on Christmas airplay.
1996-98: Blue Moon, Dream Walkin', and Greatest Hits Volume One
Keith was moved to the short-lived Nashville division of A&M Records to release Blue Moon in April 1996. His third album to achieve a platinum certification, it also included three singles. The first was "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You", written by Keith in 1987, which reached number 2. Following it were "A Woman's Touch" at number 6, and his third number 1 hit, "Me Too", which peaked in March 1997. Keith also appeared on The Beach Boys' now out-of-print 1996 album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 performing a cover of their 1963 hit "Be True to Your School" with the Beach Boys themselves providing the harmonies and backing vocals.
Following a corporate merger, Keith returned to Mercury in 1997. His fourth studio album, Dream Walkin', was also his first produced by James Stroud, who would also serve as Keith's co-producer until 2005. It produced two consecutive number 2 hits in "We Were in Love" and a cover of Sting's 1996 single "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying". Sting also sang duet vocals and played bass guitar on it, and the two also performed the song at the 1997 Country Music Association awards. After this song, the album's title track made number 5, while "Double Wide Paradise" peaked at number 40.
Keith's last Mercury release was Greatest Hits Volume One in October 1998. The album included twelve of his prior singles and two new songs: the country rap "Getcha Some" and "If a Man Answers". Both were released as singles, with "Getcha Some" reaching Top 20, but "If a Man Answers" became his first single to miss Top 40. According to Keith, these two songs were originally to be put on a studio album, but Mercury executives, dissatisfied with the album that Keith had made, chose to put those two songs on a greatest hits package, and asked him to "go work on another album". After he recorded two more songs which the label also rejected, he asked to terminate his contract with the label. After exiting Mercury, Keith co-wrote Shane Minor's debut single "Slave to the Habit" with Chuck Cannon and Kostas.
1999-2002: How Do You Like Me Now?! and Pull My Chain
In 1999, Keith moved to DreamWorks Records' Nashville division, of which Stroud served as president. His first release for the label was "When Love Fades", which also failed to make Top 40. Upon seeing the single's poor performance, Keith requested that it be withdrawn and replaced with "How Do You Like Me Now?!", a song that he wrote with Chuck Cannon, and which had previously been turned down by Mercury. It also served as the title track to his first DreamWorks album, How Do You Like Me Now?! The song spent five weeks at number 1 on the country charts, and became his first Top 40 pop hit, with a number 31 peak on the Hot 100. It was also the top country song of 2000 according to the Billboard Year-End chart. The album, which was certified platinum, produced a Top 5 hit in "Country Comes to Town" and another number 1 in "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This". It was also his first album to feature songs co-written by Scotty Emerick, who would be a frequent collaborator of Keith's for the next several albums. Steve Huey wrote that this album "had a rough, brash attitude that helped give Keith a stronger identity as a performer." In 2001, Keith won the Academy of Country Music's Top Male Vocalist and Album of the Year awards.
Following this album was Pull My Chain, released in August 2001. The album's three singles — "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight", "I Wanna Talk About Me", and "My List" — all went to number 1 on the country charts, with the latter two both holding that position for five weeks. "I Wanna Talk About Me", written by Bobby Braddock, also displayed a country rap influence with its spoken-word lyrics. The Country Music Association named "My List" as Single of the Year in 2002. Of Pull My Chain, Erlewine wrote that "this is a bigger, better record than its predecessor, possessing a richer musicality and a more confident sense of humor".
2002-2004: Unleashed and Shock'n Y'all
In 2002, he released the Unleashed album which included four singles. First was "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)", which Keith wrote in 20 minutes as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The song references Keith's father, a United States Army veteran who died that March in a car accident. Both this song and "Who's Your Daddy?" were number 1 hits, with "Rock You Baby" reaching number 13. The last single was "Beer for My Horses", a duet with Willie Nelson which six weeks at the top of the country charts. At the time, it was also Keith's highest entry on the Hot 100, at number 22. In July 2003, Keith made a guest appearance on Scotty Emerick's debut single "I Can't Take You Anywhere", which was previously recorded by Keith on Pull My Chain. Emerick's version of the song was his only Top 40 country hit, at number 27.
Shock'n Y'all, his eighth studio album, was released in November 2003. The album's title is a pun on the military term "shock and awe". It became his second album from which all singles went to number 1: "I Love This Bar", "American Soldier", and "Whiskey Girl". Also included on the disc were "The Taliban Song" and "Weed with Willie", two live songs recorded with Emerick. The album was followed in late 2004 by Greatest Hits 2, which included three new songs: "Stays in Mexico", "Go with Her", and a cover of Inez and Charlie Foxx's "Mockingbird", recorded as a duet with his daughter, Krystal Keith. "Stays in Mexico" was a number 3 hit on the country charts, while "Mockingbird" peaked at number 27.
Keith's final DreamWorks album was Honkytonk University in early 2005. Lead-off single "Honkytonk U" peaked at number 8, followed by "As Good as I Once Was", which spent six weeks at number 1, and "Big Blue Note" at number 5. After the release of the latter, DreamWorks Records ceased operations.
2005-present: After DreamWorks
On August 31, 2005, Keith founded a new label, Show Dog Nashville. Its first release was his 2006 album White Trash with Money, followed by the soundtrack to Broken Bridges. He also abandoned Stroud as co-producer in favor of Cannon's wife, Lari White. The album included three singles: "Get Drunk and Be Somebody", "A Little Too Late", and "Crash Here Tonight". Big Dog Daddy followed in 2007, with Keith serving as sole producer. Its singles were "High Maintenance Woman", "Love Me If You Can", and "Get My Drink On". "Love Me If You Can" became Keith's first number 1 hit since "As Good as I Once Was" more than two years prior. A two-disc Christmas album, A Classic Christmas, followed later in 2007. In 2008, Keith completed his Biggest and Baddest Tour. On May 6, 2008, he released 35 Biggest Hits, a two-disc compilation featuring most of his singles to date, as well as the new song "She's a Hottie", which peaked at number 13.
Keith released "She Never Cried in Front of Me", which went to number 1 in 2008. Its corresponding album, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, followed on October 28, 2008. It was followed by "God Love Her", also a number 1 hit, and "Lost You Anyway". American Ride, in 2009, produced another number 1 in its title track. It was followed by the Top 10 hit "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)", a tribute to basketball player and jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, a friend of Keith's who died in May 2009. The album's final single was "Every Dog Has Its Day".
Bullets in the Gun was released on October 5, 2010. This was Keith's first album not to produce a Top 10 hit, with "Trailerhood" reaching number 19, followed by the title track and "Somewhere Else" both at number 12. Keith produced the album with session guitarist Kenny Greenberg and Mills Logan.
On October 23, 2011, Clancy's Tavern was released. The album included the single "Made in America", written by Keith along with Bobby Pinson and Scott Reeves, which went to number 1. Following it was "Red Solo Cup", which had previously been made into a music video which became viral. Upon release as a single, "Red Solo Cup" became Keith's best-peaking crossover, reaching number 15 on the Hot 100. The album's final single was "Beers Ago" at number 6 in 2012. In December 2011, Keith was named "Artist of the Decade" by the American Country Awards.
Keith's sixteenth album, Hope on the Rocks, was released in late 2012. It produced only two singles, both of which are top 20 hits: "I Like Girls That Drink Beer" reached at number 17 and the title track peaked at number 18.
In mid-2013, he entered the charts with "Drinks After Work", the first single from his seventeenth album, also titled Drinks After Work. The album's second single is "Shut Up and Hold On".Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. Shelburne, Craig (1 March 2007). "Toby Keith Jams, Notches 50 Million Airplays". CMT. Retrieved 4 October 2010. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Toby Keith review". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 July 2013. Waddell, Ray (June 18, 2005). "Toby Keith: Superstar graduates from 'Honkytonk University'". Billboard 117 (25): 45, 46, 48, 50. ISSN 0006-2510. "Nothing shaky about Keith's music success". The Times-Leader. 12 November 1996. pp. 1C. Retrieved 28 March 2010. "Stages are set". Macon Telegraph. 29 March 1996. pp. 1D. Retrieved 28 March 2010. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Keith, Sting duet gives tune second wind". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 1997-11-07. pp. P3. Retrieved 2009-07-03. Wix, Kimmy (1997-09-24). "31st Annual CMA Awards Show". CMT. Retrieved 2009-07-03. Crossan, Jeff. "Bobby Braddock article". Songwriter Universe. Retrieved 2007-07-19. Gilbert, Calvin (7 May 2004). "DreamWorks Nashville Merges With Mercury and MCA". CMT. Retrieved 9 July 2013. "Best of 2000: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2000. Retrieved August 15, 2012. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pull My Chain review". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 July 2013. CBS News (November 5, 2003). "Toby Keith: Being Honest On 'Red, White & Blue,' CMAs And 'Shock'n Y'all'". The Early Show. "Toby To Release Greatest Hits CD". Country Weekly. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2013-10-28. Graff, Gary (2009-06-13). "Toby Keith's American Ride in High Gear". Billboard. "Toby Keith Preps Bullets In The Gun - Undercover.fm News". Undercover.com.au. 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2012-03-26. "Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean Win Big at American Country Awards | Music News". Rolling Stone. 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2013-10-28. Sterdan, Darryl (August 29, 2013). "Miley Cyrus, NIN top the 2013 fall music preview". Canoe.ca. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
Keith performed on a series of television advertisements for Telecom USA for that company's discount long distance telephone service 10-10-220. He also starred in Ford commercials, singing original songs such as "Ford Truck Man" and "Field Trip (Look Again)" while driving Ford trucks.
Keith made an appearance at the first Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (then NWA-TNA) weekly pay-per-view on June 19, 2002, where his playing of "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" was interrupted by Jeff Jarrett. He would later enter the Gauntlet for the Gold main event, suplexing Jarrett and eliminating him from the match. A short video of the suplex is seen in the clip package when he goes onstage. He appeared the next week, on June 26, and helped Scott Hall defeat Jarrett in singles action.
In 2009, Keith participated in the Comedy Central Roast of Larry the Cable Guy, which aired on March 14, 2009.
Keith received the "Colbert Bump" when he appeared on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He holds the distinction of being the only musical artist to have received a five star rating from Stephen Colbert on iTunes. Keith furthered this connection when he appeared in Colbert's 2008 Christmas special as a hunter. Keith also made an appearance as a musical guest on the October 27, 2011 episode of the Colbert Report.
On October 29, 2011, Keith appeared on Fox Channel's Huckabee with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. He played "Bullets in the Gun" and he joined with Huckabee's house band to play a song at the end of the show.
In the Autumn of 2005, he filmed Broken Bridges, written by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld, and directed by Steven Goldmann. This feature film from Paramount/CMT Films was released on September 8, 2006. In this contemporary story set in small-town Tennessee, Keith plays Bo Price, a washed-up country musician. The movie also stars Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds, Tess Harper, and Lindsey Haun.
Keith wrote and starred in the 2008 movie Beer for My Horses, which is based on the 2003 hit song of the same name recorded by Keith and Willie Nelson."Beer for My Horses (2008)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
In 2005, Keith opened Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as well as Syracuse, New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now also has restaurants in Thackerville, Oklahoma; Auburn Hills, Michigan; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Mesa, Arizona; Peoria, Arizona; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Newport News, Virginia; and Denver, Colorado. Keith does not actually own the new restaurants; the new restaurant is the first in a franchise under Scottsdale, Arizona-based Capri Restaurant Group Enterprises LLC, which purchased the master license agreement to build more Toby Keith restaurants nationwide. Capri Restaurant Group is owned by Frank Capri, who opened the restaurant in Mesa in the shopping center known as Mesa Riverview and is planning on opening multiple locations across the country.
In 2009, Capri Restaurant Group announced that it will open another I Love this Bar & Grill location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's South Side Works shopping and entertainment district.
February 2010 marked the opening of the Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in the Winstar World Casino, exit 1 on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma. Other locations opened in 2010 by the Capri Restaurant Group included those in Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Michigan and in the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
In early 2009, Keith also established a line of clothing, TK Steelman.
Keith supports Ally's House, a non-profit organization in Oklahoma designed to aid children with cancer. Of the charity, Keith said:
This is a special charity to me. I saw firsthand how a child's cancer diagnosis can devastate a family. Please join me in supporting these kids through Ally's House. We're gonna make it better for the kids.
In 2011, Keith introduced a new drink named “Wild Shot". At first it was only available in Mexico, but now is sold and served in America. It is a featured drink in his restaurant chain, I Love this Bar and Grill.
Keith's music career and his various other business ventures have made him one of the wealthiest celebrities in the United States. The July 15. 2013, edition of Forbes magazine features Keith on the cover with the caption "Country Music's $500 million man". The article titled "Cowboy Capitalist" by Zack O'Malley Greenburg also contains information regarding Keith's earnings as a musician over the course of his career, such as earning $65 million in the past 12 months, which surpasses the earnings of even more well known musicians such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé and that he hasn't earned less than $48 million a year over the past 5 years. Keith has written at least one #1 country single over the past 20 years and the partnership between his own label, Show Dog-Universal, and Big Machine Records, which Keith also helped found in 2005."Toby Keith draws huge crowd at opening | Metromix Phoenix". Phoenix.metromix.com. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2012-03-26. "Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill coming to South Side | TribLIVE". Pittsburghlive.com. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Oklahoman Toby Keith loves this bar and grill". The Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK). 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-26. "Toby Keith Takes On Fashion with TK Steelman Clothing Line – Style News - StyleWatch - People.com". Stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com. 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Ally's House". allyshouse.net. Retrieved 2012-10-31. "Toby Keith, Cowboy Capitalist: Country's $500 Million Man". Forbes. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Toby Keith Named Forbes Magazine's "$500 Million Man" | New Country Music, Listen to Songs & Video". Roughstock.com. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
Since 2002, Keith has made numerous trips to the Middle East to bring entertainment and encouragement to US men and women serving on or near the front lines. “My father was a soldier. He taught his kids to respect veterans,” said Keith. “It’s that respect and the thank-you that we have a military that’s in place and ready to defend our nation; our freedom.”
In 2004, Keith called himself "a conservative Democrat who is sometimes embarrassed for his party". He endorsed the re-election of President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election and performed at a Dallas, Texas, rally on the night before the election. Keith also endorsed Democrat Dan Boren in his successful run in Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district and is good friends with former Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. In a January 2007 interview with Newsday, Keith was asked whether he supported the Iraq War. He responded with "Never did," and said he favors setting a time limit on the campaign. He also said, "I don't apologize for being patriotic... If there is something socially incorrect about being patriotic and supporting your troops, then they can kiss my ass on that, because I'm not going to budge on that at all. And that has nothing to do with politics. Politics is what's killing America."
In April 2008, Keith said that Barack Obama "looks like a great speaker and a great leader. And I think you can learn on your feet in there, so I don't hold people responsible for not having a whole bunch of political background in the House and Senate." At the same time he remarked, "I think [John] McCain is a great option too." In August 2008, he called Obama "the best Democratic candidate we've had since Bill Clinton".
In October 2008, Keith told CMT that he had left the Democratic Party and has re-registered as an independent. "My party that I've been affiliated with all these years doesn't stand for anything that I stand for anymore," he says. "They've lost any sensibility that they had, and they've allowed all the kooks in. So I'm going independent." He also told CMT that he would likely vote for the Republican ticket, partially because of his admiration for Sarah Palin.
In March 2009, Keith received the Johnny "Mike" Spann Memorial Semper Fidelis Award during a New York ceremony held by the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. The trophy is named for the CIA operative (and former Marine Corps captain) who was the first U.S. casualty in the war in Afghanistan. "Spending time with our soldiers around the world is something I've always regarded as a privilege and honor," he said. "I'm certainly happy to accept this award, but I won't forget for a second who's really doing the heavy lifting to keep this country safe. And that's why I'll keep going back and spending time with those good folks every chance I get."
In April 2009, he voiced support for Obama on Afghanistan and other decisions: "He hired one of my best friends who I think should run for president someday...Gen. James Jones as a national security adviser. He's sending troops into Afghanistan, help is on the way there. And I'm seeing some really good middle range stuff. I'm giving our commander in chief a chance before I start grabbing. So far, I'm cool with it."
Courtesy of the Red, White and BlueMain article: Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue
On March 24, 2001, Keith’s father, H.K. Covel, was killed in a car accident. That event and the September 11 attacks in 2001 prompted Keith to write the song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", a song about his father’s patriotism and faith in the United States. At first, Keith refused to record the song and sang it only live at his concerts for military personnel. The reaction to the song, the lyrics of which express clear nationalistic and militaristic sentiments, was strong in many quarters, even to the point that the Commandant of the Marine Corps James L. Jones told Keith it was his "duty as an American citizen" to record the song. As the lead single from the album Unleashed (2002), "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue" peaked at number one over the Fourth of July weekend.
ABC invited Keith to sing "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue" on a 2002 Fourth of July concert it was producing, then rescinded the invitation after host Peter Jennings heard the song and vetoed it. Jennings said the song "probably wouldn’t set the right tone". "I find it interesting that he's not from the U.S.", Keith said of Jennings, who was Canadian. "I bet Dan Rather'd let me do it on his special."
Feud with the Dixie Chicks
Keith had a public feud with the Dixie Chicks over the song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", in 2003 as well as over comments they made about President George W. Bush on stage during a concert in London. The lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, publicly stated that Keith's song was "ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant". Keith responded by pointing out that Maines did not write her music and he does, and by displaying a backdrop at his concerts showing a doctored photo of Maines with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. On May 21, 2003, Maines wore a T-shirt with the letters "FUTK" on the front at the Academy of Country Music Awards. While a spokesperson for the Dixie Chicks said that the acronym stood for "riends nited in ruth and indness," many, including host Vince Gill, took it to be a shot at Keith ("uck Yo oby eith"). In an October 2004 appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, Maines finally confessed that it was indeed a shot at Keith, and that she "thought that nobody would get it".
In August 2003, Keith's representation publicly declared he was done feuding with Maines "because he's realized there are far more important things to concentrate on". Keith was referring specifically to the terminal illness of a former bandmate's daughter, Allison Faith Webb. However, he continues to refuse to say Maines' name, and claims that the doctored photo was intended to express his opinion that Maines' criticism was an attempt to squelch Keith's free speech.
In April 2008, a commercial spot to promote Al Gore's "We Campaign", involving both Keith and the Dixie Chicks, was proposed. However, the idea was eventually abandoned due to scheduling conflicts.Greenberger, Michael (April 28, 2009). "Toby Keith Entertains Troops in Afghanistan". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2009-07-17. Morse, Steve (July 23, 2004). "He's not afraid to speak out for his country". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-09-12. Finan, Eileen (2008-04-15). "Surprise! Toby Keith Likes Clinton and Obama - Music News, Toby Keith". People.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26. Thill, Scott (2008-08-19). "WTF? Toby Keith, Democrat, Likes Obama | Listening Post". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26. "News : Toby Keith Registering as Independent Voter". CMT. 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2013-10-28.  Gavin, Patrick (2009-04-22). "VIDEO: Toby Keith 'cool' with Obama - POLITICO.com Print View". Dyn.politico.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26. "Courtesy Of The Red, White & Blue: Singer Talks About His Defiantly Patriotic Songs". CBS News. 2003-12-31. Retrieved 2007-06-05. Mansfield, Brian (June 13, 2002), Singer Toby Keith speaks out on ABC censorship, USA Today, retrieved April 9, 2010 Leung, Rebecca (December 31, 2003), "Courtesy Of The Red, White & Blue", CBS News, retrieved April 9, 2010 "Natalie Maines (Dixie Chick member) Bashes Toby Keith's Patriotic Anthem @ Top40-Charts.com - Songs & Videos from 49 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 30 Countries". Top40-charts.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Fresh Dixie Chicks row erupts". BBC News. June 3, 2003. Retrieved May 25, 2010. "video of Dixie Chicks appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher". Yoism.org. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Tobey Keith Ends Feud With Natalie Maines". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "Talk Talk: Toby Keith Unplugged - Post Rock". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
Keith has an honorary degree from Villanova University, which he attended from 1979-1980. He planned to be a petroleum engineer.
An avid University of Oklahoma sports fan, Keith is often seen at Oklahoma Sooners games and practices. He is also a fan of professional wrestling, being seen in the front row of numerous WWE shows that take place in Oklahoma, as well as performing "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)" live at the first ever TNA Wrestling show on June 19, 2002. He is also a Free Will Baptist.
On March 24, 1984, Keith married Tricia Lucus. He is the father of three children—two daughters, Shelley Covel Rowland (born 1980, adopted by Keith in 1984) and Krystal "Krystal Keith" LaDawn Covel Sandubrae (born September 30, 1985; signed a contract with Show Dog-Universal in 2013.), and one son (Stelen Keith Covel, born 1997). He also has one granddaughter (born 2008; mother is Shelley) and one grandson (born 2010; mother is also Shelley).
On March 24, 2001 (incidentally, Keith's 17th wedding anniversary), Keith's father was killed in a car accident on Interstate 35. On December 25, 2007, the Covel family was awarded $2.8 million for the wrongful death of H.K. Covel. Elias and Pedro Rodriguez, operators of Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa, and the Republic Western Insurance Co. were found liable as they failed to properly equip the charter bus with properly working air brakes.
Keith filmed a PSA for Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. Through his encouragement for music education, giving the gift of music is possible in children’s lives."Toby Keith, Cowboy Capitalist: Country's $500 Million Man". Forbes. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-10-28. "News : Toby Keith's Father to be Buried Today". CMT. 2001-03-27. Retrieved 2013-10-28.  Cannon, Jane Glenn (December 25, 2007), "Toby's family satisfied". The Oklahoman. Retrieved April 9, 2010. http://www.littlekidsrock.org/friends/our-big-fans/toby-keith/ Retrieved January 15, 2014
ToursBrooks & Dunn's Neon Circus & Wild West Show 2001Unleashed Tour 2002 with Jamie O'Neal, Emerson Drive and Rascal Flatts (Select Dates)USO 2002–2013 (11 tours, visiting 15 countries and 3 naval ships)Shock'N Y'all Tour 2003with Blake SheltonBig Throwdown Tour 2004 with Lonestar and Gretchen WilsonBig Throwdown Tour II 2005 with Jo Dee MessinaWhite Trash With Money Tour 2006Hookin' Up & Hangin' Out Tour 2007 with Miranda Lambert, Trace Adkins, Josh GracinBig Dog Daddy Tour 2007Biggest & Baddest Tour 2008-2009 with Montgomery Gentry and Trailer ChoirAmerica's Toughest Tour 2009 with Trace Adkins Also Julianne Hough(Few Dates)Toby Keith's American Ride Tour 2010 with Trace Adkins & James OttoLocked & Loaded Tour 2011 with Eric Church & JT HodgesLive in Overdrive Tourwith Brantley GilbertHammer Down Tour 2013 with Kip MooreHammer Down Under Tour 2014 With Kellie Pickler & Eli Young Band "PHOTOS: Toby Keith Drops in on Troops Based in Philippines, Guam, Hawaii". USO. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2013-10-28.  "Toby Keith 2012 Live in Overdrive Tour Schedule and Details". Tickifieds Blog. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
American Music Awards2002 Favorite Country Album - "Unleashed"2003 Favorite Country Album - "Shock'n Y'all"2003 Favorite Country Male Artist2005 Favorite Country Male Artist
Academy of Country Music2000 Album of the Year - "How Do You Like Me Now?!"2000 Top Male Vocalist2002 Entertainer of the Year2003 Album of the Year - "Shock'n Y'all"2003 Entertainer of the Year2003 Top Male Vocalist2003 Video of the Year with Willie Nelson - "Beer for My Horses"
Country Music Association2001 Male Vocalist of the Year2012 Music Video of the Year "Red Solo Cup"
BillboardCountry Artist Of The Decade
American Country AwardsVisionary Artist Award at the Inaugural American Country Awards, given out on Monday, December 6, 2010.