Oklahoma born country music sensation Toby Keith who was responsible for the 1993 hit single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” has grown to become a mentor to upcoming acts in the industry as well as a living legend, having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.
The former NFL hopeful, rodeo rider and oil rigger is also best known for his shows to United States military personnel serving in the Middle East. His warlike, nationalistic and militaristic 2002 hit “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” which was inspired by the September 11 attacks was an unofficial anthem for the troops.
Toby Keith was born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Oklahoma on the 8th of July 1961, to his parents; Hubert K. Covel, Jr. and Carolyn Joan (née Ross). He is the second child of three; he has an older sister named Tonnie and a younger brother named Tracy. The family moved around a lot while Keith was growing up, first living in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for a few years before moving to Moore, Oklahoma.
He attended Highland West Junior High and then Moore High School where he graduated from. Having played High School football, Keith did not go straight to college as his peers did at the time. He rather chose to go work with his father at the Oklahoman oil fields.
Before heading to the oil fields, Keith had already fallen in love with music. He started playing instruments at a young age, owning his first guitar at the age of eight. He was further inspired by musicians who played at his grandmother’s club. While working odd jobs at the club, Keith would usually ask to get up on the bandstand to play with the band. One time he was given a taste of show business when the band at the time let him play with them on stage after he finished his chores.
Keith went on to form a band with several of his friends during his high school years but, opted to make a living by working at the oil fields rather than actively pursuing a musical career at the time. He rose to the level of operation manager. His passion for music, while still working in the oil fields, gave rise to Easy Money Band which Keith and a few of his co-workers and friends came together to form. The band played at local bars and were occasionally invited to open for bigger country music bands.
When Keith found himself out of a job due to the rapid decline of the oil industry in the early 80s, he fell back on his “part-time” music career. He found some success in 1984 when his band was invited to play the honky tonk circuit in Oklahoma and Texas. He was able to make ends meet but still tried to secure a contract. He would from time to time, travel to Nashville to give out his Demos hoping to get signed.
His big break came in the early 90s when Mercury Records executive, Harold Shedd, heard his demo and decided to sign him to a recording contract. Keith signed with Mercury Records and released his self-titled debut album 1993. His debut single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”, which was the most-played song of the 1990s, went straight to number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album produced three more top 5 hits on the country charts and was certified platinum.
Toby Keith enjoyed more success with his follow-up works; ‘Boomtown’ in 1994 (Certified Platinum), ‘Blue Moon’ in 1996 (Certified Platinum), and ‘Dream Walkin’ in 1997 (Certified Gold). Here, he teamed up with Sting to record “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying”. The track earned them a Grammy nomination. ‘How Do You Like Me Now?!’ followed in 1999 before ‘Unleashed’ which featured the hit duet “Beer for My Horses” with Willie Nelson was released in 2002, selling over 3 million copies.
Keith has gone ahead to try his hands on acting and has started his own record label as well as other business ventures which include a clothing line, bars, grills, and restaurants.
Toby Keith’s Family – Wife and Daughter
Toby Keith is married to Tricia Lucus. The couple got married on March 24, 1984, and have three children together, two daughters and a son. Their first, Shelley Covel Rowland, was born in 1980. She is Tricia’s biological daughter from a previous relationship who Keith had adopted. The second child is Krystal LaDawn Covel Sandubrae, born in 1985 and then Stelen Keith Covel, born in 1997.
Keith’s second daughter, Krystal, is following in her father’s footsteps to become a country music star. She has a recording contract with Show Dog-Universal Music and has so far released one album titled ‘Whiskey & Lace’.
Height and Other Facts
Birth Name: Toby Keith Covel
Date of Birth: July 8, 1961
Birth Place: Clinton, Oklahoma, U.S.A
Height: 6 feet 2 inches (1.89m)
Weight: 82 kg (181lbs)
Occupation(s): Singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer