Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and More Country Stars Pay Tribute to Toby Keith After His Death: 'An American Icon'

The country music legend "passed peacefully" on Monday night after being diagnosed with stomach cancer two-and-a-half years ago

Toby Keith is being remembered by the country music community following his death at the age of 62.

Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Dolly Parton, Jason Aldean, Old Dominion, Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, Zach Bryan, Dan + Shay and Luke Combs were among the stars who paid tribute to the “Red Solo Cup” singer Tuesday, after his family shared the news of his death on social media hours earlier.

"Saddle up the horses, Jesus, ‘cause a true blue COWBOY just made his ride up to heaven!!!" Underwood, 40, wrote on Instagram, sharing a gallery of photos of herself and Keith over the years. "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!!" she added. "See you again someday, friend."

<p>Drew Altizer Photography/Shutterstock</p> Toby Keith in April 2019

Drew Altizer Photography/Shutterstock

Toby Keith in April 2019

Aldean, 46, call Keith's death "a sad day for country music and its fans." He said, "Toby was a huge presence in our business and someone we all looked up to and respected. You and your music will be forever remembered big man."

"Toby inspired millions and I was one of them," wrote Jelly Roll, 39, on his Instagram Story, noting he covered Keith's "Should've Been a Cowboy" at "every show last year."

Old Dominion shared their condolences on Instagram. "Toby Keith was a true trailblazer," said the group. "Authentic and heartfelt but always with a wink ‘til the end. He was larger than life in so many ways and his music will live on forever! Raising our red solos tonight—you will be missed by so many. Peace."

"Too many rides in my old man’s car listening to Toby Keith," tweeted Zach Bryan, 27. "Really hard thing to hear. Rest in peace friend, we love you."

Houser, 48, posted a video of himself singing a cover of "I Love This Bar," Keith's 2003 tune, calling it "One of my favorites that he and Scotty Emerick wrote."

"@TobyKeith… An American icon. They do not make 'em like him everyday in my opinion," Houser wrote, adding, "It’s late at night or early in the morning but I wanted to sing one in his honor no matter what time it is. Rest In Peace. Job well done."

He also paid tribute to the star, writing on Instagram under his family’s post on the tragic news, "God Bless you and family. Hard to imagine an America without Toby Keith in it."

"I am at a loss for words," William Michael Morgan, 30, penned in an Instagram post. "A true American. A true country artist. I know he is waking up with our Lord now. Prayers for his family."

Meanwhile, James Otto, 50, recalled working with Keith during the American Ride tour, an experience he was "blessed" to do and said he "will never forget."

"Completely heartbroken waking up to the news of Toby Keith passing," he said. "I thought he was on the mend. ... It’s hard to see any life cut short but there’s something incredibly startling about seeing someone like Toby taken so young. My sincere condolences go out to his family."

Austin Burke, 28, honored Keith’s love for America in his tribute on his Instagram Story. “This one hurts," Burke wrote. "Toby and Garth brought country music through my Arizona radio growing up, and made me fall in love. WE not only lost a Country Music Legend but also an American Hero. His love for America and his love for our great Military is how I know he would want to be remembered.” 

Related: Toby Keith Dead at 62 Following Stomach Cancer Diagnosis: 'Passed Peacefully'

<p>Mediapunch/Shutterstock</p> Toby Keith in concert at the Comcast Theatre.


Toby Keith in concert at the Comcast Theatre.

Other country names like Dustin Lynch, Travis Denning, Brantley Gilbert, Granger Smith, Chuck Wicks, Cole Swindell, John Rich and Tim McGraw reacted as they woke up to the news.

On Instagram, Parton, 78, praised Keith for being "one of the greats," adding that his "music and legacy will live on."

Luke Bryan, 47, and Wicks, 44, dedicated posts to the late star as well, both sharing a photo of the them with Keith on the red carpet together.

"Just arriving at American Idol and seeing the sad news in our country community. An iconic artist and a great man. Your songs turn every room into a good time," Bryan's caption read.

"Everyone loved @tobykeith I’ll never forget the conversation we had around Music and Faith 🙏🏻 RIP Big Man!" read Wicks'.

Shelton, 47, posted to X (formerly Twitter) to open up about the shock he feels knowing Keith is gone.

Combs, 33, and Swindell, 40, kept their tributes short, with Combs writing, "Damn, RIP Toby. Can’t believe it," and Swindell reminding fans of the value of life: "RIP Toby Keith- Tell folks you love them while you can. Life is short..the older I get, the more I realize how true it is,"

In a long message alongside a video sharing his thoughts on handling grief, Smith, 44, talked about the analogy of a tree growing toward the light but dying if it looks down. He also announced his new children's book about "processing our thoughts on our own mortality," which he said felt fitting for the emotions of the day.

Denning, 31, sang a cover of "My List" by Keith as a tribute to his life, sharing in his caption that the song "rings a little more true today."

Rich, 50, highlighted Keith's "bigger than life" personality in his post.

"Waking up to the terrible news that our friend, and legend @tobykeith has passed away from cancer," he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). "He was a true Patriot, a first class singer/songwriter, and a bigger than life kind of guy. He will be greatly missed."

Gilbert, 39, shared a photo of him and Keith in the recording studio on Instagram, writing: "Woke up to news that Toby Keith had passed…. He was a class act, a friend and one of the most talented guys you’ll ever meet… We’ll miss you down here man… Rest in peace."

Lynch, 38, also posted to Instagram to recall the time he covered Keith's hit "Should've Been a Cowboy" on stage with a young fan: "Thank you @tobykeith, you inspired me and the next generation of cowboys we’ll ride on with you and make sure our flag flies high."

Dan + Shay, 36 and 32, followed suit with several other celebs, posting a message along with their own cover of a Keith song, "She Never Cried in Front of Me": "Used to cover to this song back in the early days. RIP to one of the greatest country music songwriters of all time. You’ll be missed, @tobykeith. ❤️"

McGraw, 56, remembered how he and Keith released their first albums on the same day in 1993. "Our self titled debuts came out on the same day, April 20, 1993… Toby and I spent quite a bit of time together early in our careers," he wrote.

"We had a lot of good times and conversations about what we wanted out of our careers and our lives. He was a maverick. He did things his way, on his terms, a true artist. I always have and always will have tremendous respect for his artistry, dedication and fearlessness to do his thing. We all will miss you, brother."

Radio host Bobby Bones, 43, who worked with Keith many times, reflected on their time spent together.

"So sad to hear about Toby Keith dying. wow," he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). "He was just with us in studio and seemed super positive. Ive had the honor of opening for him on his tour. playing with him at festivals. and having him, in studio many times. Gathering notes and thoughts to talk about it coming up this morning."

Outside of the country world, other tributes came in from stars like Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Baldwin, Kristy Swanson, Pat McAfee, Donald Trump Jr. and Kid Rock.

Both Chenoweth, 55, Baldwin, 57, and Swanson, 54, wrote under his family's post, "I loved him as a musician. A great Oklahoman,' said Chenoweth. "A great American. What a loss!."

"Wow, this announcement has totally taken my breath away. I've been praying for Toby and it is truly wonderful to know he is finally home. Praise Jesus," said Baldwin, while Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress commented, “Rest in Peace and Love Toby Keith.”

Related: Paying Tribute to the Celebrities Who Died in 2023

Kid Rock, 53, simply remembered the country icon for being "a tried and true, red, white, and blue, AMERICAN BADASS." He continued: "RIP TK, sure gonna miss ya Big Dog. Thanks for the music and all the great memories. -Kid Rock"

Keith’s family shared on social media that he had “passed peacefully” on Monday night, after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in fall 2021.

"Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on Feb. 5 surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage," the statement from his family read, adding, "Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

Keith broke into the country scene in 1993 with “Should Have Been a Cowboy," before producing several other hit songs including, "I Love This Bar," "As Good as I Once Was" and "Beer for My Horses" ft. Willie Nelson. The country singer, who has been outspoken about his patriotism, also created the song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" following the 9/11 attacks.

He won several accolades throughout the years for his music, including album of the year and male vocalist of the year at the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM). He also won the ACM Entertainer of the Year in 2003 and 2004, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

Keith also played for several U.S. presidents including George W Bush. Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and was even awarded the National Medal of the Arts by the latter.

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The songwriter played his first official headlining show since he revealed his cancer diagnosis at Park MGM in Las Vegas in December, 2023 — which would become one of his final performances. In a video shared to YouTube announcing the shows, he described them as "kind of rehab shows" which would "get the band back in sync, get me rolling again."

"Through COVID and cancer, the old devil’s been after me a little bit," Keith added. "I’ve got him by the horns right now, so instead of just sitting around and waiting, we’re gonna get the band back together."

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