Longtime Rep Pays Tribute to 'Misunderstood' Toby Keith

'He was certainly one of the most courageous men I knew'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2024 3:33 PM CST
Rep Says Toby Keith Was 'Misunderstood'
Toby Keith presents the award for male video of the year at the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Toby Keith was "misunderstood," says Elaine Schock, longtime rep and friend of the country singer, who died Monday night after a long battle with stomach cancer. "He was brilliant, fun to be with, and we would have some robust discussions," Schock tells People. "Plus, he could write and sing his ass off." Schock was Keith's publicist for more than 20 years. "Toby was kind," she says. "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."

Fellow country musicians including Dolly Parton shared tributes to the 62-year-old Tuesday, the Tennessean reports. "It is always hard when we lose our brothers and sisters in country music," Parton said in a post on X. "Toby Keith was one of the greats in every way. He will be missed but his music and legacy will live on." Keith "was big, brash, and never bowed down or slowed down for anyone. He relished being an outsider and doing things his way," Country Music Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young said. "For three decades, he reflected the defiant strength of the country music audience."

Keith was known for patriotic songs including the post-9/11 "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," but he remained "fiercely independent" and often described himself as a conservative Democrat, "confounding critics with seemingly contradictory statements expressing admiration, for example, for the ideologically divergent likes of Donald Trump and Barack Obama," the New York Times reports. He performed hundreds of shows for troops overseas, including some in Afghanistan and Iraq. "There's not one single thing political about supporting the troops," he told CNN in 2010. (More Toby Keith stories.)

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