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Country singer-songwriter Toby Keith was born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Oklahoma, in 1961 and began playing guitar at age 8, but it would be years before Keith would pursue music as a career.
He grew up in Moore, Oklahoma, with twin passions for music and sports. He began playing football at five; at eight, in imitation of the musicians who appeared at his grandmother's supper club, he started playing guitar.
Toby Keith worked as a rodeo hand in high school, then took a job in the oil fields after graduation. He also formed the Easy Money band and played local honky-tonks on weekends. He worked on the oil rigs in Oklahoma, where he worked his way up to operational manager (he worked 70 hour weeks running casing on a drilling rig). After three years in the oil fields, the industry hit a major slump, and Toby cast his eye back toward sports. He played two years as a defensive end for the Oklahoma City Drillers, a semi-pro team, all the while continuing to perform with his band. While playing with the Drillers, he tried out for the Oklahoma Outlaws of the ill-fated USFL.
When that league folded, Toby Keith reassessed his life, deciding that despite the odds, he needed to pour himself into music. So he and Easy Money hit the road. Toby concentrated on his writing, putting together a demo tape that made a fan of former Alabama producer Harold Shedd. This led to Toby signing with Mercury Records and releasing a self-titled album that resulted in three #1 hits, "Should’ve Been A Cowboy," "Wish I Didn’t Know Now" and "A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action," and the #5 hit "He Ain't Worth Missing."
Toby Keith resided on the charts for a year, earning double-platinum certification.
He became nationally successful in 1993 with four hits from his debut CD – three of which he wrote. The record spawned the Top 10 singles "Should've Been a Cowboy," "He Ain't Worth Missing" and "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and soon went platinum. Toby Keith was named Top New Country Artist by Billboard Magazine.
He returned in 1994 with "Boomtown," a gold-selling following, and "Christmas to Christmas," a collection of Christmas favorites. 1996's "Blue Moon," produced by Keith himself, was another huge success, as was 1997's "Dream Walkin'."
In 2001, Keith's name was included in six different categories for the 36th Annual ACM Awards, including single, song, video, album, male vocalist and entertainer.
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