Don Chase Remembers the Life and Career of Toby Keith
By now you are probably aware that the world of Country music lost a superstar last night. At the young age of 62, Toby Keith lost his battle with stomach cancer. Toby was surrounded by his family and friends.
I was sitting here in The BIG 95.7 WKML studio around 4:00 this morning when I heard this sad news and I have to confess, I was not ready.
The first time I met Toby was in 1997 at the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee.
One funny story that I remember from that event was that by chance, a friend who was a major record label representative introduced me to Toby. After the three of us had talked for a few minutes, Toby’s record rep said, I hear that LeAnn Rimes is somewhere in the room. Toby responded, “who the hell is LeAnn Rimes?” We all had a big laugh until we realized LeAnn was standing directly behind Toby waiting on her chance to meet the superstar. At the time, LeAnn was doing really well with her new song “Blue.” I think she was only 13 years old at the time.
Personally, I will always look back and find it puzzling that Toby never played Fort Liberty’s 4th of July Celebration. I’m not sure why. What I do know is that a new attendance record would have been set if Toby could have performed. I so respected Toby for supporting those in uniform during his career.
If you were to ask me about my favorite Toby Keith song, it would take me a moment. First, I would go back to 1993 and Toby’s first song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” which was a monster hit on The BIG 957. It was Toby’s first number one song and if I remember correctly, it was the most played Country song between 1990 and 1999.
My personal list of Toby Keith favorites would include “My List,” a great tune that reminded all of us to focus on what’s most important in our lives. “As Good As I Once Was,” the story of a bunch of guys hanging out at a local bar and unbelievably a fight breaks out was a great one. “Courtesy of The Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” which was inspired by the sad attack on America on September 11th and of course, “How Do You Like Me Now” would also make the list.
In the end, I hope Toby could feel that millions of fans were praying that he could win his battle. To Toby’s wife Tricia and their children Shelley, Krystal and Stelen, prayers continue for you.
Toby, thank you for all you did for Country radio!