||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2009)|
Keith at the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, April 18, 2010
|Birth name||Toby Keith Covel|
|Born||July 8, 1961|
|Origin||Moore, Oklahoma, United States|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, record producer, actor|
|Labels||Mercury Records Nashville
Show Dog-Universal (formerly of Show Dog Nashville)
|Associated acts||Carter's Chord, Scotty Emerick, Lindsey Haun, Mac McAnally, Bobby Pinson, Trailer Choir, Stephen Cochran, Willie Nelson, Sting, Jewel Kilcher, Ted Nugent, Krystal Keith|
Toby Keith Covel (born July 8, 1961), best known as Toby Keith, is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer and actor. Keith released his first four studio albums—1993's Toby Keith, 1994's Boomtown, 1996's Blue Moon and 1997's Dream Walkin', plus a Greatest Hits package for various divisions of Mercury Records before leaving Mercury in 1998. These albums all earned gold or higher certification, and produced several chart singles, including his debut "Should've Been a Cowboy", which topped the country charts and was the most played country song of the 1990s. The song has received three million spins since its release, according to Broadcast Music Incorporated.
Signed to Nashville DreamWorks in 1998, Keith released his breakthrough single "How Do You Like Me Now?!" that year. This song, the title track to his 1999 album of the same name, was the Number One country song of 2000, and one of several chart-toppers during his tenure on DreamWorks Nashville. His next three albums, Pull My Chain, Unleashed, and Shock'n Y'all, produced three more Number Ones each, and all of the albums were certified multi-platinum. A second Greatest Hits package followed in 2004, and after that, he released Honkytonk University.
When Dreamworks closed in 2005, Keith founded his own label, Show Dog Nashville, which became part of Show Dog-Universal Music in December 2009. He has released seven studio albums on this label: 2006's White Trash with Money, 2007's Big Dog Daddy, 2008's That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, 2009's American Ride, 2010's Bullets in the Gun, 2011's Clancy's Tavern and 2012's Hope on the Rocks as well as the compilation 35 Biggest Hits in 2008. He has also signed several other acts to the label, including Trailer Choir, Carter's Chord, Flynnville Train, Trace Adkins, Mac McAnally and Mica Roberts. Keith also made his acting debut in 2006, starring in the film Broken Bridges and co-starred with comedian Rodney Carrington in the 2008 film Beer for My Horses.
Keith has released sixteen studio albums, two Christmas albums, and three compilation albums. He has also charted more than forty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including nineteen Number One hits and sixteen additional Top Ten hits. His longest-lasting Number One hits are "Beer for My Horses" (a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson) and "As Good as I Once Was" (2005), at six weeks each. He has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.
Early life 
Keith was born in Clinton, Oklahoma, the son of Carolyn Joan (née Ross) and Hubert K. Covel, Jr. He has a sister, Tonni, and a brother, Tracy. The family lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for a few years when Keith was in grade school, but moved to Moore, Oklahoma (a suburb of Oklahoma City) when he was still young. Before the family moved to Moore, he visited his grandmother in Fort Smith during the summers. His grandmother owned Billie Garner's Supper Club in Fort Smith, where Keith became interested in the musicians who came there to play. He did odd jobs around the supper club and started getting up on the bandstand to play with the band. He got his first guitar at the age of eight. After the family moved to Moore, Keith attended Highland West Junior High and Moore High School, where he played defensive end on the football team.
Keith graduated from Moore High School and worked as a derrick hand in the oil fields. He worked his way up to become an operation manager. At the age of 20, he and his friends Scott Webb, Keith Cory, David "Yogi" Vowell and Danny Smith, with a few others, formed the Easy Money Band, which played at local bars as he continued to work in the oil industry. At times, he would have to leave in the middle of a concert if he was paged to work in the oil field.
In 1982, the oil industry in Oklahoma began a rapid decline and Keith soon found himself unemployed. He fell back on his football training and played defensive end with the semi-pro Oklahoma City Drillers while continuing to perform with his band. (The Drillers were an unofficial farm club of the United States Football League's Oklahoma Outlaws; Keith tried out for the Outlaws but did not make the team.) He then returned to focus once again on music. His family and friends were doubtful he would succeed, but, in 1984, Easy Money began playing the honky tonk circuit in Oklahoma and Texas. The band cut a single titled "Blue Moon" which received some airplay on local radio stations in Oklahoma.
In the early 1990s, Keith went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he hung out and busked on Music Row and at a place called Houndogs. He distributed copies of a demo tape the band had made to the many record companies in the city. There was no interest by any of the record labels, and Keith returned home feeling depressed. He had promised himself and God to have a recording contract by the time he was 30 years old or give up on music as a career. Fortunately for Keith, a flight attendant and fan of his gave a copy of Keith's demo tape to Harold Shedd, a Mercury Records executive, while he was traveling on a flight she was working. Shedd enjoyed what he heard, went to see Keith perform live and then signed him to a recording contract with Mercury. His debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy" (1993), went to number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart, and his self-titled debut album was certified platinum. Other hit singles included "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "Wish I Didn't Know Now".
Keith was moved to Polydor Records Nashville and released his next album, Boomtown (1994), then was moved to A&M Records Nashville, as those two labels merged and released Blue Moon (1996). The albums went gold and platinum, respectively. In 1996, Keith was also featured on the Beach Boys' now out-of-print 1996 album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 performing a cover of their 1963 hit "Be True to Your School" with the Beach Boys themselves providing the harmonies and backing vocals.
A&M decided to fold their country division and Keith moved back to Mercury Records Nashville (as a result of parent PolyGram consolidating its Nashville operations in the years leading up to its merger into Universal Music Group), and released his fourth album, Dream Walkin'' (1997). The album featured a duet with Sting, "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying", which had previously been a hit for Sting himself.
The first single off How Do You Like Me Now?!, his first for the UMG-distributed DreamWorks Nashville label, failed to make the Top 40 on the country charts. However, the follow-up single, which was the album's title track, went on to spend five weeks at number one, helping boost the album's sales to double platinum.
On November 9, 2004, Keith released a remake of James Taylor and Carly Simon's "Mockingbird", a duet with his daughter, Krystal. They performed the song on the 2004 Country Music Awards. The song reached top 25 on the charts.
Keith was the subject of the January 2005 issue of Playboy's Playboy Interview. That year, Keith toured with rock guitarist Ted Nugent, whom Keith met in Iraq while they were both performing in USO-sponsored shows for the coalition troops.
On August 31, 2005, Keith parted ways with DreamWorks Nashville — which had since been sold to UMG outright — and launched his own record label, Show Dog Nashville, which immediately signed a distribution deal with UMG, ensuring the continuation of his relationship with the company. Its first release was Keith's album White Trash with Money, followed by the soundtrack to Broken Bridges. Big Dog Daddy, which featured his single "High Maintenance Woman", was released on June 12, 2007. The album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 charts, his third album to reach this feat, after Unleashed and Shock'n Y'all.
In 2008, Keith completed his Biggest and Baddest Tour. On May 6, 2008, he released his 35 Biggest Hits 2CD set. The set was certified Platinum in August 2008.
In 2009, Keith toured the U.S. with fellow country star Trace Adkins on a tour known as America's Toughest Tour. The concert series was kicked off on June 18, 2009 at PNC Bank Performing Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. Keith did a free show earlier in the day at Asbury Park's famous Stone Pony.
In 2010, Keith performed on another USO tour, this time in South Korea.
In December 2011, Keith was named "Artist of the Decade" by the American Country Awards.
Television appearances 
Keith performed on a series of television advertisements for Telecom USA for that company's discount long distance telephone service 10-10-220. He also starred in Ford commercials, singing original songs such as "Ford Truck Man" and "Field Trip (Look Again)" while driving Ford trucks.
Keith made an appearance at the first Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (then NWA-TNA) weekly pay-per-view on June 19, 2002, where his playing of "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" was interrupted by Jeff Jarrett. He would later enter the Gauntlet for the Gold main event, suplexing Jarrett and eliminating him from the match. A short video of the suplex is seen in the clip package when he goes onstage. He appeared the next week, on June 26, and helped Scott Hall defeat Jarrett in singles action.
Keith received the "Colbert Bump" when he appeared on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He holds the distinction of being the only musical artist to have received a five star rating from Stephen Colbert on iTunes. Keith furthered this connection when he appeared in Colbert's 2008 Christmas special as a hunter. Keith also made an appearance as a musical guest on the October 27, 2011 episode of the Colbert Report.
On October 29, 2011, Keith appeared on Fox Channel's Huckabee with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. He played "Bullets in the Gun" and he joined with Huckabee's house band to play a song at the end of the show.
In the Autumn of 2005, he filmed Broken Bridges, written by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld, and directed by Steven Goldmann. This feature film from Paramount/CMT Films was released on September 8, 2006. In this contemporary story set in small-town Tennessee, Keith plays Bo Price, a washed-up country musician. The movie also stars Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds, Tess Harper, and Lindsey Haun.
Other business ventures 
In 2005, Keith opened Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now also has restaurants in Thackerville, Oklahoma; Auburn Hills, Michigan; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Mesa, Arizona; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Newport News, Virginia; and Denver, Colorado. Keith does not actually own the new restaurants; the new restaurant is the first in a franchise under Scottsdale, Arizona-based Capri Restaurant Group Enterprises LLC, which purchased the master license agreement to build more Toby Keith restaurants nationwide. Capri Restaurant Group is owned by Frank Capri, who opened the restaurant in Mesa in the shopping center known as Mesa Riverview and is planning on opening multiple locations across the country.
February 2010 marked the opening of the Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in the Winstar World Casino, exit 1 on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma. Other locations opened in 2010 by the Capri Restaurant Group included those in Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Michigan and in the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
In early 2009, Keith also established a line of clothing, TK Steelman.
Keith supports Ally's House, a non-profit organization in Oklahoma designed to aid children with cancer. Of the charity, Keith said:
This is a special charity to me. I saw firsthand how a child's cancer diagnosis can devastate a family. Please join me in supporting these kids through Ally's House. We're gonna make it better for the kids.
In 2011, Keith introduced a new drink named “Wild Shot". At first it was only available in Mexico, but now is sold and served in America. It is a featured drink in his restaurant chain, I Love this Bar and Grill.
Political beliefs 
Since 2002, Keith has made numerous trips to the Middle East to bring entertainment and encouragement to US men and women serving on or near the front lines. “My father was a soldier. He taught his kids to respect veterans,” said Keith. “It’s that respect and the thank-you that we have a military that’s in place and ready to defend our nation; our freedom.”
In 2004, Keith called himself "a conservative Democrat who is sometimes embarrassed for his party". He endorsed the re-election of President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election and performed at a Dallas, Texas, rally on the night before the election. Keith also endorsed Democrat Dan Boren in his successful run in Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district and is good friends with former Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. In a January 2007 interview with Newsday, Keith was asked whether he supported the Iraq War. He responded with "Never did," and said he favors setting a time limit on the campaign. He also said, "I don't apologize for being patriotic... If there is something socially incorrect about being patriotic and supporting your troops, then they can kiss my ass on that, because I'm not going to budge on that at all. And that has nothing to do with politics. Politics is what's killing America."
In April 2008, Keith said that Barack Obama "looks like a great speaker and a great leader. And I think you can learn on your feet in there, so I don't hold people responsible for not having a whole bunch of political background in the House and Senate." At the same time he remarked, "I think [John] McCain is a great option too." In August 2008, he called Obama "the best Democratic candidate we've had since Bill Clinton".
In October 2008, Keith told CMT that he had left the Democratic Party and has re-registered as an independent. "My party that I've been affiliated with all these years doesn't stand for anything that I stand for anymore," he says. "They've lost any sensibility that they had, and they've allowed all the kooks in. So I'm going independent." He also told CMT that he would likely vote for the Republican ticket, partially because of his admiration for Sarah Palin.
In March 2009, Keith received the Johnny "Mike" Spann Memorial Semper Fidelis Award during a New York ceremony held by the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. The trophy is named for the CIA operative (and former Marine Corps captain) who was the first U.S. casualty in the war in Afghanistan. "Spending time with our soldiers around the world is something I've always regarded as a privilege and honor," he said. "I'm certainly happy to accept this award, but I won't forget for a second who's really doing the heavy lifting to keep this country safe. And that's why I'll keep going back and spending time with those good folks every chance I get."
In April 2009, he voiced support for Obama on Afghanistan and other decisions: "He hired one of my best friends who I think should run for president someday...Gen. James Jones as a national security adviser. He's sending troops into Afghanistan, help is on the way there. And I'm seeing some really good middle range stuff. I'm giving our commander in chief a chance before I start grabbing. So far, I'm cool with it." Keith also endorsed Obama's re-election.
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue 
On March 24, 2001, Keith’s father, H.K. Covel, was killed in a car accident. That event and the September 11 attacks in 2001 prompted Keith to write the song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", a song about his father’s patriotism and faith in the United States. At first, Keith refused to record the song and sang it only live at his concerts for military personnel. The reaction to the song, the lyrics of which express clear nationalistic and militaristic sentiments, was strong in many quarters, even to the point that the Commandant of the Marine Corps James L. Jones told Keith it was his "duty as an American citizen" to record the song. As the lead single from the album Unleashed (2002), "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue" peaked at number one over the Fourth of July weekend.
ABC invited Keith to sing "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue" on a 2002 Fourth of July concert it was producing, then rescinded the invitation after host Peter Jennings heard the song and vetoed it. Jennings said the song "probably wouldn’t set the right tone". "I find it interesting that he's not from the U.S.", Keith said of Jennings, who was Canadian. "I bet Dan Rather'd let me do it on his special."
Feud with the Dixie Chicks 
Keith had a public feud with the Dixie Chicks over the song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", in 2003 as well as over comments they made about President George W. Bush on stage during a concert in London. The lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, publicly stated that Keith's song was "ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant". Keith responded by belittling Maines' songwriting skills, and by displaying a backdrop at his concerts showing a doctored photo of Maines with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. On May 21, 2003, Maines wore a T-shirt with the letters "FUTK" on the front at the Academy of Country Music Awards. While a spokesperson for the Dixie Chicks said that the acronym stood for "Friends United in Truth and Kindness," many, including host Vince Gill, took it to be a shot at Keith ("Fuck You Toby Keith"). In an October 2004 appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, Maines finally confessed that it was indeed a shot at Keith, and that she "thought that nobody would get it".
In August 2003, Keith's representation publicly declared he was done feuding with Maines "because he's realized there are far more important things to concentrate on". Keith was referring specifically to the terminal illness of a former bandmate's daughter, Allison Faith Webb. However, he continues to refuse to say Maines' name, and claims that the doctored photo was intended to express his opinion that Maines' criticism was an attempt to squelch Keith's free speech.
In April 2008, a commercial spot to promote Al Gore's "We Campaign", involving both Keith and the Dixie Chicks, was proposed. However, the idea was eventually abandoned due to scheduling conflicts.
Personal life 
On March 24, 1984, Keith married Tricia Lucus. He is the father of three children—two daughters, Shelley Covel Rowland (born 1980, adopted by Keith in 1984) and Krystal "Krystal Keith" LaDawn Covel Sandubrae (born 1985), and one son (Stelen Keith Covel, born 1997). He also has one granddaughter (born 2008; mother is Shelley) and one grandson (born 2010; mother is also Shelley). Krystal signed a contract with Show Dog-Universal in 2013.
An avid University of Oklahoma sports fan, Keith is often seen at Oklahoma Sooners games and practices. He is also a fan of professional wrestling, being seen in the front row of numerous WWE shows that take place in Oklahoma, as well as performing "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)" live at the first ever TNA Wrestling show on June 19, 2002. He is also a Free Will Baptist.
On March 24, 2001, Keith's father was killed in a car accident on Interstate 35. On December 25, 2007, the Covel family was awarded $2.8 million for the wrongful death of H.K. Covel. Elias and Pedro Rodriguez, operators of Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa, and the Republic Western Insurance Co. were found liable as they failed to properly equip the charter bus with properly working air brakes.
Keith has an honorary degree from Villanova University, which he attended for one year.
- Brooks & Dunn's Neon Circus & Wild West Show 2001
- Unleashed Tour 2002
- USO 2002–2013 (11 tours, visiting 15 countries and 3 naval ships)
- Shock'N Y'all Tour 2003
- with Blake Shelton
- Big Throwdown Tour 2004
- Big Throwdown Tour II 2005
- with Jo Dee Messina
- White Trash With Money Tour 2006
- Hookin' Up & Hangin' Out Tour 2007
- Big Dog Daddy Tour 2007
- Biggest & Baddest Tour 2008-2009
- America's Toughest Tour 2009
- Toby Keith's American Ride Tour 2010
- Locked & Loaded Tour 2011
- Live in Overdrive Tour
- with Brantley Gilbert
- Hammer Down Tour 2013
- with Kip Moore
Studio albums 
- Toby Keith (1993)
- Boomtown (1994)
- Blue Moon (1996)
- Dream Walkin' (1997)
- How Do You Like Me Now?! (1999)
- Pull My Chain (2001)
- Unleashed (2002)
- Shock'n Y'all (2003)
- Honkytonk University (2005)
- White Trash with Money (2006)
- Big Dog Daddy (2007)
- That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy (2008)
- American Ride (2009)
- Bullets in the Gun (2010)
- Clancy's Tavern (2011)
- Hope on the Rocks (2012)
Compilation albums 
- Greatest Hits Volume One (1998)
- 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (2003)
- Greatest Hits 2 (2004)
- 35 Biggest Hits (2008)
Christmas albums 
Number one singles 
- "Should've Been a Cowboy"
- "Who's That Man"
- "Me Too"
- "How Do You Like Me Now?!"
- "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This"
- "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight"
- "I Wanna Talk About Me"
- "My List"
- "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)"
- "Who's Your Daddy?"
- "Beer for My Horses" (duet with Willie Nelson)
- "I Love This Bar"
- "American Soldier"
- "Whiskey Girl"
- "As Good as I Once Was"
- "Love Me If You Can"
- "She Never Cried in Front of Me"
- "God Love Her"
- "American Ride"
- "Made in America"
Notable awards 
- 2002 Favorite Country Album - "Unleashed"
- 2003 Favorite Country Album - "Shock'n Y'all"
- 2003 Favorite Country Male Artist
- 2005 Favorite Country Male Artist
- 2000 Album of the Year - "How Do You Like Me Now?!"
- 2000 Top Male Vocalist
- 2002 Entertainer of the Year
- 2003 Album of the Year - "Shock'n Y'all"
- 2003 Entertainer of the Year
- 2003 Top Male Vocalist
- 2003 Video of the Year with Willie Nelson - "Beer for My Horses"
- Country Artist Of The Decade
American Country Awards
- Visionary Artist Award at the Inagural American Country Awards, given out on Monday, December 6, 2010.
- "News Article: Singer Uses Stage to Bring Attention to Servicemembers’ Sacrifices". Defense.gov. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Shelburne, Craig (March 1, 2007), Toby Keith Jams, Notches 50 Million Airplays, CMT.com, retrieved April 9, 2010
- Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Toby Keith". wargs.com. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "Toby Keith : Biography". Biography. cmt.com. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "Toby To Release Greatest Hits CD"
- "Toby Keith Preps Bullets In The Gun - Undercover.fm News". Undercover.com.au. 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- RollingStone.com Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
- Beer for My Horses (2008)
- "Toby Keith draws huge crowd at opening | Metromix Phoenix". Phoenix.metromix.com. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill coming to South Side PittsburghLive.com, August 18, 2009
- "Oklahoman Toby Keith loves this bar and grill". The Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK). 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Toby Keith Takes on Fashion". People. January 30, 2009
- "Ally's House". allshouse.net. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- Greenberger, Michael (April 28, 2009). "Toby Keith Entertains Troops in Afghanistan". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Morse, Steve (July 23, 2004). "He's not afraid to speak out for his country". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- Finan, Eileen (2008-04-15). "Surprise! Toby Keith Likes Clinton and Obama - Music News, Toby Keith". People.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Thill, Scott (2008-08-19). "WTF? Toby Keith, Democrat, Likes Obama | Listening Post". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Toby Keith registering as Independent Voter
- [dead link]
- Gavin, Patrick (2009-04-22). "VIDEO: Toby Keith 'cool' with Obama - POLITICO.com Print View". Dyn.politico.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Courtesy Of The Red, White & Blue: Singer Talks About His Defiantly Patriotic Songs". CBS News. 2003-12-31. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- Mansfield, Brian (June 13, 2002), Singer Toby Keith speaks out on ABC censorship, USA Today, retrieved April 9, 2010
- Leung, Rebecca (December 31, 2003), "Courtesy Of The Red, White & Blue", CBS News, retrieved April 9, 2010
- Natalie Maines (Dixie Chick member) Bashes Toby Keith's Patriotic Anthem @ Top40-Charts.com - 40 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 25 Countries
- "Fresh Dixie Chicks row erupts". BBC News. June 3, 2003. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
- "video of Dixie Chicks appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher".
- Toby Keith - Tobey (sic) Keith Ends Feud With Natalie Maines
- Talk Talk: Toby Keith Unplugged
-  Facebook of Shelley Covel Rowland, Found via Facebook of Alicia Sandubrae, Sister-in-Law of Krystal Keith (found via Facebook Search)
- "Toby Keith's Father To Be Buried Today"
- Cannon, Jane Glenn (December 25, 2007), Toby's family satisfied, The Oklahoman, retrieved April 9, 2010
- "Toby Keith 2012 Live in Overdrive Tour Schedule and Details". Tickifieds Blog. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
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