It’s hard to imagine a world without Taylor Swift…or Toby Keith. The fact is, without Toby Keith there may not have ever been a “Taylor Swift.”
The impact of Toby Keith’s career is undeniable. The award-winning singer and songwriter was one of the most-successful artists in the history of country music. His success could be credited to an incredible work ethic, God-given talent and the ability to recognize a great opportunity when he saw one.
That skill paid off in a big way in 2005 when Keith was given the chance to partner his own record label, Show Dog Nashville, with Scott Borchetta’s newly-launched Big Machine Records. Toby provided Borchetta with the financing and infrastructure Big Machine needed to get off the ground and sign a 15-year-old Taylor Swift to her first record deal.
In a 2005 interview that has gone viral after Toby’s passing on February 5, a young Taylor Swift gushes about the country singer.
“You’re in a room with him and you can feel it. There’s a power there,” Taylor said at the time. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I won’t see him and be like ‘OMG! That’s Toby Keith.'”
Toby Keith reportedly maintained his stakes in Big Machine Records throughout Taylor’s rise to superstardom. She stayed with the label until she completed her contract with them in 2018.
Toby Keith died Monday, February 5, at the age of 62.
The music world was shaken when Toby Keith’s family announced on social media that he had died following a valiant battle with stomach cancer.
Toby will be remembered for many things, but perhaps his most memorable appearance will be his final television performance. During the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Toby took the stage to sing his self-penned song, “Don’t Let The Old Man In.”
The event marked his first televised performance since his cancer diagnosis in 2021. It would also become his final televised performance. Watch Toby Keith sing “Don’t Let The Old Man In” below.