Toby Keith Biography

Review The Artist (11)

Toby Keith-photo
With "Should've Been A Cowboy", Toby Keith rode onto the country music horizon with the assuredness of a seasoned veteran. Perhaps it came from cutting his teeth on a string of one-night and one-week engagements in the honky tonks of Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Perhaps it came from the slow, methodical business approach that he's taken, such as buying a bus and finding a good manager before he took strides to find a record deal. But for whatever reason, Keith has shouldered the rigors of impending stardom with a grace shown by very few of today's crop of emerging young talents.

What's even more staggering than the success of his self- titled debut album is the new plateau that he is reaching with his sophomore effort, BOOMTOWN. On the strength of his first album, which launched two Number Ones and two Top 5 hits, Billboard named Keith the Top New Country Artist of 1993.

And now, BOOMTOWN eclipses his first album both in terms of performances and the songwriting. With BOOMTOWN, Keith achieves his goal of further building his credibility as a solid country singer while also establishing himself as a strong country songwriter.

"I had my whole life to write the first one and a year to come up with the second," Keith says. "It used to be that if I had a good idea, I could work on it until it was done. If it took years, that was OK.

"This time, if I had a good idea, I had to really work hard and get it done right, because there are no opportunities to waste," he says.

Viewing his career with a pragmatism like this is rare, but Toby Keith seems to be one of those artists who just gets it. Listening to the way he leans into the songs on BOOMTOWN, his instinctive sense of knowing when to push a line hard or pull back to an almost whisper, it's obvious this is a vocalist whose warm, mature baritone is a unique mixture of strength and subtlety.

And his writing is just as powerful and concentrated. To hear him sing the project's title track is to hear a voice that knows one must make the best of even desperation, as a boom goes bust right beneath him.

"I lived that song, watched it happen in Elk Town, Oklahoma," he says. "Elk Town went from being Small Town USA to Boomtown overnight, as they brought in 1,500 oil rigs and started pumping.

"For six years, you had corporate people coming in from Houston and Saudi Arabia," he says. "They built a Hilton, put a bar on every corner -- there was even prostitution. Everybody had money, even people who were living under overpasses, because there wasn't enough housing for everybody.

"Then the wells ran dry," he says. "The rich people got rich by saving their money. The fools who got it and spent it were broke. The Hilton couldn't maintain itself, so,it was sold for 10 cents on the dollar and is now a Mom and Pop hotel, even though it looks like a Hilton. And the guy in the song, well, he watched it come and he watched it go. He's switched over, moving real estate or whatever. It hasn't cost him anything, so he's trying to make another boom for himself out of the bust."

Keith comes by his credentials as a blue-collar poet honestly. He grew up on an Oklahoma farm and worked for a rodeo during his summers in high school. In addition to working on the oil rigs in Oklahoma, where he worked his way up from roughneck to operational manager, he has test-ridden bulls and broncos for rodeos and played two seasons for the Oklahoma City Drillers, a farm team for the now defunct USFL. When the USFL folded and the oil boom went bust, Keith decided to focus his time and energy on his music. A hard day's work is something Keith knows firsthand -- and he brings that sense of reality to his music.

By 1988, Keith and his band, Easy Money, had broken out of the competitive Texas-Oklahoma dance club circuit to play more lucrative gigs at bigger clubs. He purchased a Silver Eagle bus and recorded several of his original songs on an independent label, which were good enough to receive praise in Billboard.

He began making trips to Nashville, handing out tapes to anyone who would accept. By chance, one night he met Harold Shedd, who is now president of Polydor Nashville, and he had a mutual friend give Shedd a tape. To Keith's amazement, Shedd called him a few days later, flew out to one of his Oklahoma City shows and offered Keith a deal the next morning over breakfast. Shedd and Nelson Larkin produced TobyKeith.

Again teaming with producers Nelson Larkin and Harold Shedd, the trio has fashioned an album that will hit the airways with even more bang than his first album, which saw "Should've Been A Cowboy" and "Wish I Didn't Know Now" reach No. 1, "Ain't Worth Missing" hit No. 2 and "A Little Less Talk (And A Lot More Action)" move into the Top 5.

"We just went in and tried to do something better," Keith says. "I hope I've matured as a writer and an artist. And if that's the case, then it should show up.

"The difference this time, too, is that we've all done this before. The first time, the pickers came in and I haven't proved anything yet. There's no special reason to really go for it. They were all very professional and played great. But this time it seemed everybody was excited to be a part of this, and they really played some amazing stuff.

"Part of it may be that we all had a sense of each other," he says. "They'd been part of making the last one happen, so they wanted to bring even more to this record. All I know is that when the guys were coming in for overdubs, a bunch of them asked for tapes of different tracks to take home with them. I can't think of a better compliment."

Looking back to the basics seems to be the backbone of Keith's steady rise. While some rising artists succumb to the celebrity aspects brought about by success, Toby Keith still believes it's all about the music, and finding some truth in the songs he sings.

"You don't have to live 'em, just step back, flip the coin and imagine what it would be like," he says. "Take 'Who's That Man.' I looked at it from a hypothetical angle. I hate to think about it so bad, I can't even fathom how terrible it would feel to have someone else raising your kids. That to me is unimaginable. But I tried to put myself in that place, and that's where the song came from.

"And it's important being able to say what you'd say, especially if the song is light-hearted. With a song like 'Big Ol' Truck,' that's my sense of humor. It's just fun, but it's the way I'd say it."

Taking pride in what he does is something that's always marked him, even when he was working 70-hour weeks running casing on a drilling rig. Back then, he and his friends were playing at local honky tonks for beer and tips. But when the money started rolling in, there was only one thing to do: reinvest in their little band, which was called Easy Money. "We took everything and just kept buying cool gear with that money," he says. "That way we always knew we'd sound better than before."

The notion of building to success underscores Keith's whole program. And despite the success of his first album, which is approaching platinum status, Keith believes the real work is still ahead. And that's OK.

"Look, I don't just do ballads and I don't just do rockin' stuff," he says. "To me, it's about showing people everything you can do, because it always comes down to the fans."

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Honkytonkangels in my town | Reviewer: honkytonkmom | 8/1/13

As I see it can't think of too many home town Hero's who ever came to my Rescue just one Lt. Colonel Mickey Lee Moore who rescued me from childhood molestation, as I think about I cannot think of a soul in Georgia that came to my rescue not one famialy member at all, They were all too busy taking my life from me..... Wow.... see I have a different heart than they do so now I see that's why I always stood out in pictures i was really the pretty one lol... that had the looks of her Father and the Heart God gave her in 1966 when I was baptized in that Holy water. Boy are they gonna wish they stood with me when this thing comes full circle and I become the choosen Journalist for all of Nashville bringing Nashville to Atlanta has always been my dream. My Hero's has always been Cowboys.... just saying Hurry up Merle, Toby Johnny Wayne and Benji come help a girl out I am so ready to have the happiness i Deserve. Be nice to see uncle bill jasper and Jesse too. There you have it folks my Personal Hero's are the Greatest to ever walk the streets of Nashville. God Speed Jorgia

Hope On The Rocks | Reviewer: Jorgiar | 12/30/12

Toby Keith's new song Hope On The Rocks is being played on every jukebox in Atlanta Georgia, Just when you think Toby Keith has song about everything from being a hometown Hero to going halfway around the world singing his great ballads of father who served his countryman here he comes with A soon to be single hit about us Bartendars and what our patrons are thinking when they come to the local watering holes where we work, Toby tells a fabulous story of what all of us have thought but never have spoken out loud, The song tells of a bartender who truly is a honkytonkangel by feeding a homeless person which as bartenders we have all done or put someone in a cab so they were sure to get home because on this day maybe had A little to much to drink, Toby sings the song with so much passion that he's more than sexy in the video he shows a side of himself that is very concerned and caring about people in his care. I think Toby and his new song Hope On The Rocks is headed back up the music charts again not that he ever left the charts at all but how many artist do you see with not one but two or three songs in the top ten charts not a one only Toby Keith and No One can touch what this Number One Country Star has and continues to do, Toby Keith has taken Nashville by Storm delivering great songs time and time again and that's what makes him America's Sweetheart Of Country Music. Jorgia.

America"s Sweetheart | Reviewer: Cheryl | 4/8/12

TK you are the #1 country icon in the world just always know you will have HATERS especially of the male species,Taylor says in her song people throw rocks at things that shine and right now goodness everyone has to wear Shades when looking at you. Keep on Going my friend the sky is truly your highway.

American Made MY ARSE! | Reviewer: data | 7/2/11

All this American music and lyrics yet this guy is playing a TAKAMINE! Japanese Guitar Go figure what a wanker! How about a Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Collins, even a Froggy Bottom, I think you made enough money last year and reaaly don't need the endorsement, especially when you sing songs like "Made in America" Give me a break Texan to Texan!!!!!!!

JUST TOBY | Reviewer: Cheryl "jorgia" hiney | 9/12/10

Toby Keith came into Nashville an took it by storm an became what will be a lengend like the HAG when he is done
he more than proved tbat thursday night when he stepped on stage thursday night in my little town lakewood georgia. He wowed the local Harley Davidson dealership when be pulled out of their parking lot riding his on beautiful bike while a hundred or more of our local riders followed as if they were headed to the best watering whole in town yet they headed to lakewood georgia where toby would be playing for thousands of roawing fans from all over Altanta. Toby Keith is not only a beautiful man his music has a style like no other he is very passinate about every word that comes across his lips while singing his songs you can feel hes ither lived in those songs or someone close to him in heart has given him memories to tell the stories he so beautifully sings. No just likd merle an johnny we will. Never grow tired of hearing Toby up there on that stage or on the radio in our cars so i say Rock On Toby Keith and keep on being. JUST TOBY'.

a great artist | Reviewer: norwegian | 12/27/09

One of my favorite artists of all time, i was at a concert he played in norway november 22nd, and loved every minute of it. I have been listening to his songs a lot since i first heard "i love this bar" and "i ain't as good as i once was" a few years ago

Awesome | Reviewer: Sherry | 8/20/09

I saw Toby in Concert in Dallas, TX a few weeks ago and was Blown away. My Birthday, #50, is
8-29-59, I will be in Vegas....Guess who else is there...Yes, Toby, I am trying to get tickets. My Son is Military and I get goose bumps every time I hear "An American Soldier". I truly think Toby is just Terrific

you shouldn't kiss me like that | Reviewer: Jordan Holly | 9/25/07

this song has such a great beat and an awsome point. Toby keith is my favorite artist and this is one of my most favorite songs. Kudos to Toby Keith!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hes Great | Reviewer: Chris | 8/19/07

Im in the military and i want to thank Toby Keith for everything he has spoken of.... If u don't like this great Singer than u don't deserve to be able to hear.... Thank you and God Bless America

A True Patriot | Reviewer: Rob Liese | 2/13/07

I think that Toby Keith is a perfect model for being a true patriot. I do alot of karoke, and his patriotic songs are always sung first, and I have actually won a decent amount of money for sounding, and singing like Toby in different contest's. Thankyou Toby for being a great inspiration, and leader for this country.

Toby | Reviewer: Sara | 5/17/05

hes the best country singer in thw whole world he soooooo awsome so get his music! its atune u need to listen to!

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-------- 11/25/2014
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