Toby Keith Biography

Toby Keith In Concert - Austin, TX
Toby Keith. Gary Miller / Getty Images

Name: Toby Keith Covel

Birthday: July 8, 1961 

Birthplace: Clinton, Oklahoma

Country Style: Contemporary Country

Toby Keith Quote About His Life Growing Up

"I was raised in bars. My grandmother had one, and when I was 12 years old I'd go stay with her and that's where I got to watch her band play -- she had a seven or eight-piece band, and I would sit in the kitchen and peek through the door. I was kind of a 12-year-old bottle washer."

Toby Keith Songwriting

Toby is responsible for a good many of his many hits, including "Should've Been a Cowboy," "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," "Who's Your Daddy," "Wish I Didn't Know Now," "How Do You Like Me Now," "American Soldier," "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" and "He Ain't Worth Missing."

Musical Influences

"I doubt anyone's had more impact on me than Merle Haggard. He's not only one of the greatest country singers there's ever been, but he's a great writer."

Suggested Songs

  • "Should've Been a Cowboy"
  • "How Do You Like Me Now?"
  •  "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue"
  • "Who's Your Daddy"
  • "She Never Cried in Front of Me"

Similar Artists

Some other artists with music similar to Toby Keith

Recommended Albums

  • Toby Keith (1993)
  • Unleashed (2002)
  • Shock'n Y'all

Longest-running No. 1 hits

"Beer for My Horses," Toby's 2003 duet with Willie Nelson, rode the No. 1 spot for six weeks, and "How Do You Like Me Now?!" (2000), "I Wanna Talk About Me" (2001) and "My List" (2002) each stayed at the top for five weeks.

Toby Keith Biography

Toby Keith Covel was born on July 8, 1961, in Clinton, Oklahoma. When Toby was young, he used to visit his grandmother's supper club, where he became interested in music. At the age of eight, he got his first guitar. In high school, he played defensive end on his high school football team and also worked as a rodeo hand. After graduation, he took a job in the oil industry. It was during this time that he formed the Easy Money Band and played country rock music in local honky tonks.

After the economy changed, and the oil industry took a downturn, Keith tried out unsuccessfully for the semi-pro football team, the Oklahoma Outlaws, all while still continuing to play with his band.

Keith decided to concentrate more on his music and cut several demos with local indie labels. One of these ended up in the hands of onetime Alabama producer Harold Shedd, who helped Toby land a deal with Mercury Records.

Success right out-of-the-box

In 1993, Toby released his self-titled debut album, which brought him success with the debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy," topping the charts right off the bat. Other hits off Toby's debut album included "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "Wish I Didn't Know Now." The album was certified platinum, with sales over $1 million.

Toby's next two albums, Boomtown and Blue Moon, were released on Polydor, earning him gold and platinum records. But, when Polydor folded, Keith was moved back to Mercury, where he released his fourth album, Dream Walkin', in 1997.

How Do You Like Me Now?!

Toby started recording How Do You Like Me Now?! while on Mercury, but due to creative differences, he purchased the rights to the album and signed with DreamWorks, where he would work with his one-time producer James Stroud. The album was released in late 1999, and the title cut shot straight to No. 1, where it stayed for five weeks and also brought him his first Top 40 pop hit.

In 2001, Keith released three No. 1 songs, "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight," "I Wanna Talk About Me" and "My List."

After the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, Toby wrote a song, which reflected his anger at the situation called "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (Angry American)." The song was controversial, some people loved it, while others, like Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, who commented that she felt the song was "ignorant."

Unleashed was released in 2002, containing the hit singles "Who's Your Daddy" and the Willie Nelson duet, "Beer for Your Horses."

In 2003, Toby released Shock'n Ya'll, and he followed that up with Honky Tonk University the following year. By 2005, Toby was ready to take the next step in his career, by starting up his own label, Showdog Records. In that same year, Toby starred in his first movie, Broken Bridges, where he played a down-and-out country singer. In 2006, he released his debut album on Showdog called White Trash With Money.

With 2007 came Big Dog Daddy, and in the fall of 2008, Toby released That Don't Make Me The Bad Guy, with the debut single from that album, "She Didn't Cry in Front of Me," bringing Toby back to the top of the charts.