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Toby Keith's Rep Says He Was "Misunderstood" Amid Negative Stories Circulating

The country star's death has brought up some of his past controversies.

The country music community is mourning the loss of legend Toby Keith, who died this week at 62 following a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Keith is the songwriting genius behind hits like "Red Solo Cup" and "As Good as I Once Was," but he also had a history of ruffling feathers. As Keith's legacy continues to be debated in the days since his passing, the singer's rep is speaking out against the "incorrect" narrative that's been forming, asking fans to instead remember Keith as the "kind" and "brilliant" singer that he was.

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"I loved Toby Keith," rep Elaine Schock told People. "He was brilliant, fun to be with, and we would have some robust discussions. Plus, he could write and sing his [expletive] off."

Keith was beloved for his singer-songwriter talents and powerful stage presence. Schock noted it's a shame his involvement with certain political events—like performing at former President Donald Trump's inauguration—has distracted some people from Keith's major accomplishments.

In defense of his decision to sing at Trump's inauguration, Keith had explained to Fox News at the time that "going to a president's inauguration, no matter who it is, that's what you're supposed to do." Keith had also performed for past presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"It's an honor to make history and get to do that," Keith expressed in his Fox News interview.

In her statement to people, Schock added, "Toby was kind. 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."

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One of the more contentious narratives that followed Keith throughout his career involved the post-9/11 songs "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)" and "American Soldier," which earned him plenty of fans as well as detractors.

In an exploration of Keith's "complex" political views, Rolling Stone proclaims these "flag-waving" songs "served as de facto national anthems for hawkish voters who believed in supporting the troops above all else."

Keith's patriotic songs led to an infamous feud with The Chicks' Natalie Maines, who had a negative interpretation of the songs' lyrics. The duo eventually worked through their quarrel in 2003.

While the "Beer for My Horses" crooner's discography was often associated with conservative viewpoints and candidates, Keith took any opportunity he had to remind folks he considered himself an Independent.

"I'd never been a Republican, and my family were Democrats, but because I made the war cry, I got the checkmark," he once said in an interview with Dan Rather, per Rolling Stone.

For her part, Schock will miss Keith dearly, but she wants his spirit to live on.

"I'm not quite sure how to maneuver in a world without Toby yet. I hate the thought of it," she told People.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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