Toby Keith Passed Away The Day Before He Would Have Learned He Was Being Inducted Into The Country Music Hall Of Fame

Toby Keith
Andrew Southam

Just one more day…

Of course we all know that Toby Keith tragically passed away on February 5th from a 2-year battle with stomach cancer. The legendary singer had recently returned to the stage for 3 shows in Las Vegas, after giving his first televised performance since the diagnosis with his emotional performance of “Don’t Let The Old Man In” during the People’s Choice Country Awards last fall.

And while fans were hopeful that things were headed in the right direction and that Toby would be hitting the road soon, unfortunately it never got to happen.

But making his death even more heartbreaking, Toby was announced today as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s class of 2024. And it was revealed during the announcement that he would have found out about the honor on February 6th – one day after his passing.

Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, explained the timeline of the voting process:

“As usual, nominations were made in the fall of 2023 and the first ballot was sent to the voters before the holiday, with the final ballot closing on February 2nd…

This year, we anticipated receiving the names of our final inductees on February 6th. As we know now, we woke up that morning to the heartbreaking news that our friend Toby Keith had lost his long battle with stomach cancer.

What’s bittersweet is just that a few hours later, our team received word…that he had been elected in the Modern Era category.”

And Trahern also reflected on missing the opportunity to tell Toby that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame by just a few hours:

“Truly one of the greatest honors of my job is getting to inform these inductees that they’re the newest members of the hallowed class. My heart sank that Tuesday afternoon knowing that we missed the chance to inform Toby while he was still with us, but I have no doubt that he’s smiling down on us, knowing that he will always be, quote, as good as he once was.”

While the Country Music Hall of Fame has a rule against electing a member in the year they pass away, in order to prevent emotions from weighing into the voting process, Trahern said that rule did not apply to Toby’s election because he had already been elected before he passed away – even if he didn’t know it yet.

Toby’s son Stelen Covel accepted the nomination on behalf of his late father:

“On behalf of my whole family, we want to thank the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor to stand here and represent my father. He’s an amazing man, husband, father, and artist, and I just want to thank everybody for being here.”

And Brooks & Dunn, who served as hosts for the event, also paid tribute to their friend during the announcement:

“The man who once sang that he dreamed about living in your radio has found a permanent home in the Hall of Fame.”

There was never really any doubt that Toby Keith would one day be a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. But it’s bittersweet that he’s not around to see it happen – especially knowing that he missed finding out about it by just one day.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock