How Did Toby Keith Die? A Heartbreaking Blow for Country Music [UPDATED]

toby keith's net worth image of toby keith holding a guitar
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Toby Keith was the epitome of what it means to be a country music icon in the 21st century. As one of the hottest and most successful country artists of recent years, coming out with hits like “American Soldier,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Stays in Mexico,” and “Whiskey Girl,” just to name a few. It’s these classic country songs that earned him such major awards from the Country Music Association and beyond, including a National Medal of Arts and the Merle Haggard Spirit Award.

That’s why when he first revealed his health struggles nearly two years ago, fans everywhere were devastated as they continued to pray that the singer would be able to pull through. While it became a battle well fought, it’s one that ultimately ended in sadness.

How did Toby Keith die? Find out that and more below.

toby keith
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How Did Toby Keith Die?

Toby Keith’s cause of death was stomach cancer, which he had been battling for well over two years. While he only announced his diagnosis with the disease in June 2022 via X, formerly known as Twitter, it was revealed that he had already been privately undergoing treatment for six months. This included chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

“Last fall, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation, and surgery. So far, so good,” the “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer wrote. “I need to breathe, recover, and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait. – T.”

Another six months down the road, in December 2022, the “Red Solo Cup” singer went on to further discuss his cancer journey, noting it as “pretty debilitating to have to go through all that, but as long as everything stays hunky-dory, then we’ll look at something good in the future.” He further noted, “I’m thinking about getting back into fighting shape. I need a little bit of time to just rest up and heal.”

Keith did get that fighting spirit back, as he made his debut back on the stage on July 1, 2023, to the shock of fans who happened to be in the right place at the right time for the unexpected two-hour pop-up show. He had been performing ever since, right up to his death.

Still, despite that, knowing of his long-term illness, it was no surprise that Toby Keith’s cause of death ended up being the result of a well-fought battle.

When Did Toby Keith Die?

Toby Keith passed away on Monday, February 5, 2024.

Following his death, his family released a statement on Tuesday, February 6, via his social media accounts. “Toby Keith passed away peacefully last night on February 5, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

Toby Keith was survived by his wife of 43 years, Tricia Lucas, whom he married on March 24, 1980. He is also survived by the couple’s two children, Krystal LaDawn Covel Sandubrae, better known as Krystal Keith, and Stelen Keith Covel.

toby keith in front of a puprle background
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Where Did Toby Keith Live When He Died?

While it’s unknown exactly where Toby Keith was, i.e., whose home he was in or if he was in a hospital at the time of his passing, his publicist, Elaine Schock, via his website, did say that the “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” singer died in his home state of Oklahoma.

How Old was Toby Keith When He Died?

Toby Keith’s death came when he was just 62 years old.

Where is Toby Keith Buried?

Considering the fact that Toby Keith’s death is so recent, it is unknown at this time where it is planned for him to be buried. However, we do expect that some plans may have already been in place before he passed away since he had been struggling with illness for so long. Only time will tell, though.

Toby Keith’s funeral arrangements were announced via his social media accounts on Saturday, Feb. 10. Of Toby Keith’s funeral plans, his family wrote, “The Covel Family is hosting a private funeral service for family, band and crew only in mid-February.”

However, while Toby Keith’s funeral is a more private affair, it was also noted that there will be a public memorial, perhaps held at the Grand Ole Opry or Ryman Auditorium, as has been seen for past deceased country music icons like George Jones or Loretta Lynn.  

“A memorial service to honor Toby will be annoucned only on Toby’s socials shortly,” the statement read.

Related: How Did George Jones Die? 

How Much was Toby Keith Worth When He Died?

By the time Toby Keith was deceased, his long, successful career in country music, as well as his many business endeavors, had earned him a considerable net worth. As of January 4, 2024, Toby Keith’s estate is worth approximately $400 million.

Related: Toby Keith’s Net Worth 2023

Who Inherited Toby Keith’s Money?

There is no official word on who will inherit Toby Keith’s money nor the specifics of Toby Keith’s will, but it is expected that his wife, as well as Toby Keith’s children and possibly grandchildren, will inherit the majority of Toby Keith’s estate. It will only be revealed for sure once the terms of Toby Keith’s will are disclosed.  

toby keith in a black cowboy hat
Image from Shutterstock.

What were Toby Keith’s Last Words?

Toby Keith’s children nor his wife have yet to reveal what our favorite “How Do You Like Me Now” singer may have said before he left this earth. We do, however, know the final gifts he shared with the public.

What was Toby Keith’s last performance? Well, fans who attended his trio of sold-out concerts at Las Vegas’ Dolby Live at Park MGM Theater in December 2023 had no idea how special that opportunity was as they officially have become his final major concerts ever.

Even more heartbreaking, though, was knowing that he did give one last performance just one day before his death. The short video reel was simply captioned, “And that’s a wrap on the weekend, y’all. Back to it.”

One commenter on the post, r.c._34, said it best. “I couldn’t imagine being in that crowd and waking up the next day realizing you just saw him for the last time … devastating.”

How Have Country Stars Reacted to Toby Keith’s Death?

Since the news broke of Toby Keith’s death, several of his fellow country stars have come out to pay tribute to him via social media. One of the first was “Before He Cheats” singer Carrie Underwood.

The fellow Oklahoma native posted via Instagram, saying, “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.”

Further, Dolly Parton wrote on her Instagram, “It’s always hard when we lose our brothers and sisters in country music,” the “I Will Always Love You” singer and songwriter posted. “Toby Keith was one of the greats in every way. He will be missed, but his music and legacy will live on.”

USA Today also noted other stars to pay tribute, such as Old Dominion and Jason Aldean.

There is one star, however, that fans are seemingly waiting anxiously to hear from is: Toby Keith’s “Beer for My Horses” duet partner Willie Nelson. As trending for Toby Keith hit an all-time high on February 6, so did that of Willie Nelson, sending many fans into panic. For now, we believe Keith’s dear friend is simply processing the news privately and will share thoughts about their long-time friendship and regular partnership at a later time.

Along with the individual tributes by country stars, prime country music entities such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and more also paid tribute to the late singer. Many of these highlighted the many honors bestowed on him over the course of his career. These included two ACM Entertainer of the Year honors (2002 and 2003) and a highlight of his more than 40 million album sales.

Related: Carrie Underwood’s Net Worth

toby keith wearing a white cowboy hat
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Cancer is a beast that doesn’t discriminate against anyone, but it’s a disease that brings out the fighting spirit in only the best. Toby Keith was a living testimony to that. Now, in death, his career and the love of his fans everywhere are sure to make it known that his legacy will forever live on in the hearts of all who loved him.

As highlighted by the description for those lucky enough to get the Merle Haggard Spirit Award bestowed on them, it’s an honor given to “a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs, and epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.”

There’s no doubt in our minds that this will be Keith’s legacy, proving that the “As Good As I Once Was” singer “is as good once as I ever was” and beyond!

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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