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Country music singer-songwriter Toby Keith dies at 62

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHOULD'VE BEEN A COWBOY")

TOBY KEITH: (Singing) I should've been a cowboy. I should've learned to rope and ride.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Country superstar Toby Keith has died at the age of 62. His publicist confirmed the news to NPR. A message posted on Keith's website says he passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family. It adds that he fought his fight with grace and courage.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

No cause of death was shared, but Keith had been sick. He announced in 2022 that he'd been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer.

MARTIN: In this video recently posted on his X feed, Keith talked about when he started writing music.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEITH: First time I ever wrote, I was 14 or 15 years old. It wasn't bad. It was structured right. But that was 5,000 songs ago.

FADEL: Keith was known for his macho, pro-America swagger and his public clashes with journalists, other celebrities and record executives.

MARTIN: Keith had a string of hits, including "Red Solo Cup"...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RED SOLO CUP")

KEITH: (Singing) Red Solo cup, I fill you up. Let's have a party.

MARTIN: ...And "Beer For My Horses," featuring Willie Nelson.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEER FOR MY HORSES")

TOBY KEITH AND WILLIE NELSON: (Singing) Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.

FADEL: His breakout hit, "Should've Been A Cowboy," got some 3 million radio plays, making it the most played country song of the 1990s.

MARTIN: Keith earned seven Grammy nominations but never won. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

FADEL: Last year, Keith won the inaugural Country Music Icon Award at the People's Choice Country Awards. In his speech, he thanked God, his family and his team.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEITH: And most of all, I want to thank the fans for still allowing us to do what we do. So...

(CHEERING)

KEITH: God bless y'all. Have a wonderful evening. Thank you.

(CHEERING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.