Toby Keith is by far one of the biggest names in country music history. Unfortunately passing away last night at the age of 62, we remember him for his outstanding contributions to the music industry and his passion for performing. But, more importantly, we also remember his dedication to charitable causes and his larger-than-life personality–a combination that worked to create one of the most legendary moments of his career.
As the son of a veteran, Toby Keith had been drawn to supporting members of the United States military throughout his whole career. Consequently, after the death of his father in 2001, followed by the attacks on September 11, the award-winning artist was more inspired than ever to do what he could to support the men and women fighting overseas.
It’s this inspiration, paired with a desire to support, that has inspired so many of Keith’s works, including “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American),” “American Soldier,” and even the title of his 2003 album, Shock’N Y’all. But to Keith, his patriotic releases weren’t enough–he wanted to do more.
In 2002, Keith began work with the United Service Organizations (USO) performing live concerts for service members all over the globe. He performed for nearly 250,000 active-duty military personnel across 17 countries and at sea during his over a decade-long affiliation with the organization.
In 2008, it was this partnership that took him across the world to Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, where he first debuted his famed “Taliban Song.” Despite being in enemy territory during a time of war, the nicknamed “Big Dog Daddy” mocked the Taliban and inspired thousands of soldiers as he sang:
“Man, you should have seen ’em run, like rabbits, they ran.”
The lyrics were rightfully relentless as the National Medal of the Arts awardee continued:
“We’ll bid a fair adieu and flip a couple fingers to the Taliban.”
Soon after the song’s performance, a local rocket attack erupted near the airfield, resulting in a temporary delay to the concert. As the audience and Keith sheltered in place, he allegedly spent the time giving out autographs and taking pictures with soldiers.
About an hour later, he was back to it. Keith started right where he left off and continued the concert like nothing happened.
As we look back at his legacy, it’s hard to forget his passion for performing and how he used it to make a difference. It’s moments such as these that make Toby Keith the legend he is; using his musical talents as a platform, he inspires so many to unite when times are hard.
You can watch the original 2008 performance of the “Taliban Song” here: