Toby's family moved to Oklahoma City when he was very young, and it was there where he developed an interest in music, as he watched the musicians who worked at his grandmother's supper club. He got his first guitar at age 8, but it would be years before Keith would pursue music as a career. At 6-feet-4 inches, Keith worked in the oil industry and played defensive end with the Oklahoma City Drillers United States Football League (USFL) team. In 1984, he turned to music full time, playing the honky-tonk circuit in Oklahoma and Texas with the band Easy Money. A demo tape made the rounds in Nashville, but there were no takers. After catching a show in Oklahoma, Mercury Records President Harold Shedd signed him to Mercury Records. His 1993 debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy," went to No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart, and his self-titled debut album was certified platinum. When Shedd left Mercury for Polydor Records, Keith went with him. He released a second album, Boomtown, in 1994. The gold-selling collection produced the No. 1 hit "Who's That Man" and the Top 5 hit "You Ain't Much Fun." The platinum-selling Blue Moon followed in 1996, featuring introspective tunes like "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You" and "Me Too." When Polydor closed its Nashville operation, Keith returned to Mercury Nashville, releasing Dream Walkin' in 1997. The bittersweet ballad, "When We Were in Love," went to No. 2, as did a cover version of rocker Sting's divorce ode "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying." The duet earned the unlikely pair a Grammy nomination, and Sting joined Keith for a performance on the 1997 CMA Awards telecast. Keith's Greatest Hits, Volume I followed in 1998, although its lead single, "Getcha Some," failed to crack the Top 10. (It has since sold more than 2 million copies.)
Unable to see eye to eye with Mercury, Keith moved to the fledgling DreamWorks Nashville label in 1999. There he worked with label head and producer James Stroud on the studio album How Do You Like Me Now?! The lead single, "When Love Fades," was a modest hit, but the title cut was a five-week No. 1 hit. Another single, "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This," also went to the top spot on the singles chart for three weeks. The double-platinum success of How Do You Like Me Now?! also earned Keith some long-awaited award nominations. Keith won two Academy of Country Music awards in 2000, for male vocalist and album. In 2001, he won his first CMA award, for male vocalist. His 2001 album, Pull My Chain, produced three No. 1 hits, "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight," "I Wanna Talk About Me" and "My List." (The latter two spent five weeks each at No. 1.) He was also nominated for six Academy of Country Music awards in 2001, though he didn't win any. On March 24, 2001, Keith's father, H.K. Covel, was killed in a traffic accident in Oklahoma. Covel's truck was sideswiped by another vehicle, which caused his truck to swerve into another lane, where it collided with a charter bus. Within six months, the events of 9/11 prompted Keith to write "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a song about his father's patriotism that pulled no punches. As the lead single from the 2002 album Unleashed, the song peaked at No. 1 over the Independence Day weekend.
Keith had been invited to sing the hit during an ABC special hosted by Peter Jennings, but the offer was rescinded because the song didn't fit the format of the show, according to Jennings. Keith's fans were in an uproar. Shortly after that, the Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines told a Los Angeles newspaper that she considered the song "ignorant" and that "anybody could write 'boot in your ass,'" a memorable lyric from that song. Both events made headlines around the country, and Keith found himself on several news programs, which introduced him to a more mainstream audience. The 2002 album Unleashed sold 3 million copies, due to the feisty "Who's Your Daddy?", the hugely popular Willie Nelson duet "Beer for My Horses" and relentless touring. He also joined Nelson, one of Keith's heroes, at Farm Aid 2002 in Pittsburgh. Nominated for numerous awards, Keith opened the 2003 ACM ceremony with Nelson, singing "Beer for My Horses." Later, toward the end of the telecast, the Dixie Chicks were beamed in from an Austin, Texas, performance, with Maines wearing a T-shirt with the letters "F.U.T.K." When Keith was absent when his name was called for entertainer of the year, many figured he'd left in anger. But he later remarked that he was on the bus writing a song with Nelson. Later in the year, he was nominated for seven CMA awards, but again, won none. Keith released the album Shock 'n Y'all in 2003, and it debuted at No. 1. A year later, he offered Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, although none of the songs on Shock 'n Y'all -- including "American Soldier" and "I Love This Bar" -- appeared on that collection. Toby was born on July 8, 1961, in Clinton, Oklahoma.
He has been the biggest live draw in country music for the past two years, and was Pollstar's No. 2 overall ticket seller last year behind Bruce Springsteen. The Academy of Country Music has named him Entertainer of the Year in back-to-back years, representing just two of the literally dozens of peer-voted, fan-voted and industry achievement awards bestowed upon him since the switch to DreamWorks.
His outspokenness, both in his music and in the media, has put him on the national stage, and at times made him a target for criticism". But it many ways, such hits come with the territory his expansive public persona now occupies. The hawkish theme of "Courtesy" led many to an ill-informed conclusion that Keith, a lifelong Democrat, is a hardcore right winger. He doesn't shy away from the political questions, and, party aside, reserves the right to think for himself. "If somebody asks, I'm going to give my opinion if I have an honest basis to have one.
Beyond his now very prominent role as Citizen Toby Keith, the release of Greatest Hits 2 is also a reminder of his presence as one of popular music's premier entertainers. Underplayed facets of his talent--his humor, his romanticism, his gift for telling stories--reassert themselves in this music.
The collection's three new recordings bring these traits to the fore--the keenly-observed "Stays In Mexico," which was Toby’s highest debuting single ever, the pure fun and family harmony on "Mockingbird," a duet with his teenage daughter Krystal, and the wryly honest portrait of lifelong devotion culled from a conversation with his late father in "Go With Her." And in a nod to those early songs and the fans that sing along to them every night, he's added live versions of "You Ain't Much Fun" and "Should’ve Been A Cowboy."
Five years, three albums and one remarkable ascension to superstardom later, Toby Keith is philosophical about his future. But it's probably safe to say that the Greatest Hits 2 collection will be a personal favorite of his for a long, long time. "I know you can't be on top of the world forever," Keith says, "but when it ends it won't be for lack of hard work or because of bad writing or singing. Because I'll continue to write and work the way I have to this point, and I'll continue to surround myself with talented people and co-writers. But that time will come, and I'm certainly always going to appreciate the span that's represented by this album. Every song speaks for itself."
Toby Keith Serves As Grand Marshall
Keith is Grand Marshal of the Orpheus Parade in New Orleans.
Toby Keith was the Grand Marshal of this year's Orpheus parade at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, one of the two major parades. And while it's almost impossible to measure which parade was the most raucous and popular, Toby got one unsolicited rating from members of the cleanup crews. They declared his parade the "winner" because it generated the biggest pile of trash (cups, beads, confetti, etc.).
Keith Single Gets Early Digital Release
Toby Keith single to be released at Wal-Mart web site Feb. 8.Fans impatient to get their hands on Toby Keith's "Honky Tonk U" don't have to wait for the album's release on May 17. The single is available at Wal-Mart's website for 30 days, beginning February 8. In March it will be made available at other retailers.
Toby Keith dominates Country Music in 2004
Singer, songwriter, artist and performer Toby Keith has experienced an unparalleled career ascension over the past five years, and year-end charts confirm that his trajectory shows no signs of turning. Billboard magazine's year-end round up finds Keith atop an astounding of the trade bible's 2004 tallies.
The DreamWorks artist is the Top Country Artist, the Top Male Country Artist, the Top Country Album Artist and the Top Hot Country Singles & Tracks Artist. Additionally his 2003 album Shock'n Y'all is the Top Country Album.
Billboard bases its charts on airplay and sales data, and reports that Shock'n Y'all spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on the country sales chart, and debuted at No. 1 on the overall Billboard 200 in November of 2003.
As for airplay, Keith's "American Soldier" spent four weeks atop the airplay and singles sales chart, with "Whiskey Girl" also reaching No. 1. His most recent release, Greatest Hits 2, bowed on the charts in November, and has already sold more than a million copies.
As if leading country music in 2004 wasn't enough, Toby is already getting a jump start on 2005, recently selling out two shows in Green Bay, WI. The first show sold out in a matter of seconds. Combined, the Jan. 27 and 28 dates will bring in 14,000 people from a town of only 100,000. Ted Nugent opens. Other tour dates include Jan. 20 in Tulsa, Jan. 21 in Omaha, Jan. 22 in Moline, IL and Feb. 11 in Little Rock.
Toby Keith's hit released to inspire Americans
Singer Toby Keith has revealed that he had written the song "Red, White and Blue," after September 9/11, but released it only after he was convinced by servicemen that it would inspire the troops fighting abroad.
He said that initially he had only planned to perform it live but once he did so at a Pentagon gala in Washington DC, Keith was approached by officials and told the tune needed to be released, reports Rate The Music.
"A four-star general came out and said, `We need that song. Are you going to be putting that song out...? I highly recommend that you do. We've got the best fighting equipment and the best fighting men, but we travel on morale, and that song needs to be heard by everybody who's going into combat," the report quoted him as saying.
"So, at the 11th hour, we cut it and released it and seven weeks later it was number one (in America)," he added
Toby Keith celebrates Mardi Gras
Country mainstay Toby Keith will celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, reigning as celebrity monarch for the Krewe of Orpheus. In addition to strolling the Uptown route through the Big Easy on Feb. 7, Keith will also perform at the annual post-parade Orpheuscapade with krewe founder Harry Connick Jr.
Keith had a very successful 2004, finishing the year as Billboard's Top Country Artist, with his 2003 set "Shock'n Y'all" (DreamWorks) leading the year-end Top Country Albums chart, while his "American Soldier" finished sixth on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks wrap-up.
Friend's Dying Daughter Made Toby Keith Reconsider Dixie Chicks Feud
Country star TOBY KEITH decided to end his much-publicised feud with the DIXIE CHICKS after learning the daughter of a friend was dying of cancer.
The WHO'S YOUR DADDY singer and Chicks star NATALIE MAINES started a war of words after she criticised PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH during a show in London in 2002.
But Keith chose to end the dispute when he realised it was taking up too much of his time and energy.
He explains, "It got to be a big carnival and then one of my best friends had a two-year-old girl who had a rare children's cancer, and I came home one day and got a phone call that she wasn't going to live.
"I just walked into my office with a big pit in my stomach, and I looked down at a country magazine, and there on the cover it said `Toby and Natalie, fight to the death,' or something like that. And it just about made me sick.
"I made a vow right then. I said, `I'm done with that. I may be stupid and let myself get into other fights, but I'm not gonna be in this one no more.'"