20 Years Ago Today: Willie Nelson Scores His First #1 Hit In 14 Years With “Beer For My Horses” With Toby Keith

Toby Keith Willie Nelson country music
Toby Keith/YouTube

When you think of the all time great Toby Keith songs, which ones come to mind?

Many will say “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “Courtesy Of The Red White And Blue,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!” but Toby had a ton of hits over the years so it’s hard to narrow it down.

However, I think we can always agree that “Beer For My Horses” will forever be an all-time classic, and one of the most beloved duets in all of early 2000s country music, with Toby teaming up with the great Willie Nelson, ol’ Shotgun Willie himself.

Written by Keith and Scotty Emerick, and co-produced by James Stroud, the song was released on Keith’s 2002 Unleashed project, and quickly became a fan favorite, as Keith and Nelson sing about a small town vigilante group that goes out and rounds up all the bad guys in town, serving whiskey for the men, and “beer for the horses.”

It was just one of Keith’s several massive hits, as it hit number one on the Hot Country Songs chart back in 2003.

In fact, Unleashed boasted two other number one singles as well, including “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” and “Who’s Your Daddy.”

As for Nelson, it was his first number one since his 1989 hit “Nothing I Can Do About It Now.”

The song also inspired the 2008 comedy movie Beer for My Horses, which starred Keith, Rodney Carrington, Gina Gershon, Cledus T. Judd, Ted Nugent, and Mel Tillis.

And the song officially hit number one on the chart exactly 20 years ago, today.

Since then, the song has drawn 3.8 billion in radio airplay audience, and 229 million on-demand official streams and sold 1.3 million downloads in the United States, according to Billboard.

So, as soon as you get off work today, be sure to close out your hump day with an ice cold beer or 10, and blast some “Beer For My Horses” while you’re at it to kickstart the weekend.

Fans Send Prayers To Toby Keith Amid Cancer Battle

Last year, Toby Keith shared the heartbreaking news that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and was forced to cancel his remaining tour dates as he underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

The country star has largely remained out of the public eye in the year since he made the announcement, though in November he did sit down with CMT and reveal that he still hopes to tour again after he’s had some time to heal and rest up.

And we’ve even seen Toby out and about a little, with the country star jumping on stage to sing a few songs at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Lexington, Kentucky late last year.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Toby shared a photo of himself – the first time we’d gotten a public glimpse of the Big Dog Daddy in quite some time – in a Twitter post expressing his support for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Toby’s noticeably thinner these days, but appears to be doing well and recovering from his cancer battle. And fans were quick to offer their prayers and support to Toby on the post:


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock