Wrote a top hit each year over past 20 years

Browse Song Catalog: BMI Listen Now

Toby Keith


His "Should've Been a Cowboy" played 3 million times on American radio

Toby Keith stands out in country music in having written at least one chart-topping single over each of the past 20 years, including “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “I Love This Bar,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Who’s Your Daddy?,” "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," “Beer for My Horses” and “American Soldier.”

Born Toby Keith Covel (July 8, 1961), the native Oklahoman grew up on a farm near Oklahoma City. He was influenced by country musicians including Bob Wills and Merle Haggard, and worked as a rodeo hand in high school, then in oil fields while playing country-rock in local honky-tonks. He also played semipro football before focusing on his music.

Much of his songwriting content centers on drinking and partying and reflects his life as a touring musician; most of the writing itself is done on the road, where he collaborates with writers including Scotty Emerick, Bobby Pinson and Rivers Rutherford in between gigs.

Keith’s breakthrough hit “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” reached No. 1 in 1993 and became the most-played country song of the decade, with over three million radio performances. In 1999, “How Do You Like Me Now?!” crossed over to the pop Top 40 chart. In 2001, he was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music, which also pronounced How Do You Like Me Now?! Album of the Year. Later that year his follow-up album Pull My Chain became his first No. 1 country album and first Top 10 pop album.

In 2002, Keith’s highly charged response to 9-11, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," brought his mainstream visibility to a new level, reaching No. 25 on the pop chart while topping the country chart. Meanwhile, Keith was also appearing on Touched by an Angel and in a Dukes of Hazzard TV reunion movie, and founded his own label, Show Dog Nashville.

Keith’s other endeavors include his I Love This Bar And Grill restaurants and his signature Wild Shot Mezcal. His Toby Keith Foundation helps sick children and their families in Oklahoma.

Now with over 85 million BMI broadcast performances, 32 No. 1 hit singles and over 40 million albums sold, Keith has received the Nashville Songwriters Association International's Songwriter/Artist of the Decade citation and is a three-time BMI Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year. He was named Artist of the Decade at the American Country Awards in 2011, and Billboard's top country artist and songwriter of the 21st Century’s first decade, finishing behind only Eminem and Britney Spears on the decade's all-genre Billboard 200 chart.

Sixty-one singles on Billboard Hot Country charts

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Toby Keith Toby Keith Merle Haggard Merle Haggard Bob Wiills Scotty Emerick Bobby Pinson Rivers Rutherford