He had been battling stomach cancer for a few years had just started returning to the stage for a few performances, including performing his final single, “Don’t Let The Old Man In” during the People’s Choice Awards at the Grand Ole Opry.
Tributes from fans and artists alike have been pouring in and there will be no shortage of tearful and emotional statements about what Toby brought to the country music community, but I think we should remember all sides of him, including the side that didn’t take shit from anyone.
There’s no better example of that than what unfolded during a concert in Pikeville, Kentucky back in 2009.
Toby was in the middle of singing “A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action” from his 1993 self-titled debut album when a fan put the gist of that song to the test.
The man was quite a bit overserved and decided he didn’t like Toby much in that moment, which makes little sense considering he was near the front of a presumably sold out show, and started flipping him the bird and eventually threw a beer at him.
Well, as you can imagine, the Big Dog Daddy didn’t much like that, but instead of doing what most artists would do and call for security to escort them out, Toby decided on the “a lot more action” route and jumped off stage to confront the drunk fan directly.
After pushing his way through the crowd, Toby grabs the man by the back of the head and gives him a good old fashioned berating before security took over and the man was escorted out.
Once he got back on stage, Toby addressed the situation:
“I apologize but I’m gonna tell you he came right down front he took a beer and threw it right on the front of the stage, flipped me the bird, grabbed his old lady and went out cussing me the whole way out. I’m sorry to act like that, I never act like that, but he’s a punk ass mother f*cker.”
Was that the smartest decision? Probably not but that’s what made Toby Keith who he was.
Today, let’s remember all sides of Toby Keith. The tender heartbreak ballad singing side and the rough and tumble side that wasn’t afraid to fight a drunk and rowdy fan.