On This Date: Toby Keith Released His Debut Single And Very First #1 Hit, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” In 1993

Toby Keith country music

A glorious day in country music.

On this date in 1993, Toby Keith released his debut single “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” which was included on his self-titled debut album.

Of course, last week, it was announced by his family that the country hitmaker passed away at the age of 62 after a long battle with stomach cancer:

“Toby Keith passed away peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

The tributes have continued to flow in for the country legend over the last week or so, and he clearly made an impact on so many people through his music, but the stories about his character and the kind of man he was stand out to me above everything else.

And really, his whole country music career started with “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” after it peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Song chart. The song has more than three million spins on country radio too, which makes it the most-played country song of the 1990’s (and rightfully so).

In an interview with Billboard in 2018, Keith shared a little bit of inspiration behind the song, which is an incredible story too:

“I think we were actually at the Long Branch Saloon or Miss Kitty’s Saloon — it was something to do with Gunsmoke. This highway patrolman who I had met on the trip, his name was John, he jumps up.

He was probably 45 or 50 back then, and he runs over to this 25-year-old cowgirl. He was going to show that he could bust a move. She turns him down. He comes over, and said, ‘She says she doesn’t dance.’

About 15 minutes later, a young cowboy comes in — and off they go on the dance floor. Everybody was making fun of him, and one of the guys said, ‘John, I guess you should have been a cowboy.’”

Classic… and the rest was history.

It’s amazing to think that Keith came out of the gate swinging with a song like this, and he’d follow it up with an impressive 20 #1 hits throughout his career.

Gonna continue to spin this one today, and here’s to the great Toby Keith.

“Should’ve Been A Cowboy”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock