Toby Keith was “misunderstood” because he was “painted in a certain way,” the late country star’s longtime rep Elaine Schock said this week following his death on Monday.
“I loved Toby Keith,” Schock told People magazine on Tuesday. “He was brilliant, fun to be with and we would have some robust discussions. Plus, he could write and sing his a– off.”
She added, “Toby was kind. I think he was misunderstood because he was painted a certain way, but that was an incorrect portrait. He was so much more. He was certainly one of the most courageous men I knew.”
Keith died on Monday night following a battle with stomach cancer, his family said in a Tuesday morning statement.
TOBY KEITH’S FAITH WAS HIS ‘ROCK’ FOLLOWING STOMACH CANCER DIAGNOSIS: ‘I JUST PRAY’
“Toby Keith passed away peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family,” the statement read.
“He fought his fight with grace and courage,” it continued. “Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
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Keith was known for hits like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and the post-9/11 patriotic song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).”
The song started a feud between Keith and The Chicks, formerly the Dixie Chicks, singer Natalie Maines, at the time, who called the song, which included the line ‘We’ll put a boot in you’re a–, it’s the American way,” “ignorant.”
Keith responded by saying she didn’t know what she was talking about because she was “not a songwriter” and would jokingly show fake images of Maines with Saddam Hussein at some of his concerts.
TOBY KEITH RETURNS TO CONCERT STAGE AFTER STOMACH CANCER DIAGNOSIS
Keith told Contact Music in 2003 that finding out one of his good friend’s daughters had died of cancer inspired him to say “enough is enough” over the feud.
“It seemed so insignificant,” he said of their clash at the time.
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Keith also played at events for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, with Trump giving him a National Medal of the Arts award in 2021.
Keith released his final album, “Peso in My Pocket,” in 2021. The country singer performed his final show in Las Vegas in December.
In 2019, Keith defended himself to critics over his decision to perform at Trump’s presidential inauguration.
“Going to a president’s inauguration, no matter who it is, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he told Fox News at the time. “It’s an honor to make history and get to do that.”
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Schock added on Tuesday, “I’m not quite sure how to maneuver in a world without Toby yet. I hate the thought of it.”