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Country singer Toby Keith dies at age 62

Toby Keith performs on stage during the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on September 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Mickey Bernal/nbc | Nbcuniversal | Getty Images

Country music icon Toby Keith has died, his official website and social media accounts said early Tuesday, 18 months after he revealed he had stomach cancer.

He was 62.

The “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer died Monday night surrounded by his family, a short statement said. “He fought his fight with grace and courage,” it added.

Keith announced that he was living with cancer in June 2022 and in September last year, he spoke of the “roller coaster” experience of going through treatment.

“You get good days and, you know, you’re up and down, up and down. It’s always zero to 60 and 60 to zero but I feel good today,” Keith told E! News ahead of receiving the Country Icon Award at the People’s Choice Country Awards.

Keith continued to record and perform through his illness, appearing live over three nights in Las Vegas in December. Visibly thin but in good voice, Keith sang many of his 32 No. 1 hits and 42 Top 10 hits, according to his official website.

“3 sold out shows in Vegas was a damn good way to end the year,” he wrote on Instagram.

In June 2022, Keith said he had been receiving chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. He told the Oklahoman newspaper last year that the tumor had shrunk by a third.

Born in Clinton, Oklahoma, and raised in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, Keith emerged as a country artist in the early 1990s and went on to become an icon of the genre. He sold between 25 million and 30 million records in the United States, depending on varying estimates, and his songs had more than 10 billion digital streaming plays.

His most recent album, “100% Songwriter,” was released in November.

His first single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” was written in a motel bathroom in Dodge City, Kansas.

Taken from his self-titled debut album, it came out in 1993 and shot to the top of the country charts in the United States and Canada, going on to become one of the most-played tunes on radio throughout the 1990s and beyond.

His other hits included “Beer for My Horses,” a duet with Willie Nelson, “I Love This Bar” and “Red Solo Cup.”

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