Toby Keith Makes Surprise Performance, His First Since Revealing Cancer Diagnosis

Toby Keith recently made a surprise appearance in Lexington, Ky., with an impromptu performance at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse on Friday (Nov. 4). Keith was visiting Lexington for the 2022 Breeder’s World Cup Championship event at Keeneland Race Course.

According to post from establishment owner Jeff Ruby, Keith performed songs including his 2003 hit “I Love This Bar,” which spent five weeks atop Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart.

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Toby Keith
Toby Keith

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The performance marks the first for Keith since he revealed in June that he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021. Keith stated at the time that in the past six months, he had undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“So far, so good,” Keith said at the time. “I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.” Keith also canceled his planned shows for the rest of 2022.

Ruby also shared a photo of himself with Keith, saying, “Grateful for my good friend Toby Keith! Rocking our Lexington stage after a year of kicking cancer’s a–!”

On Tuesday (Nov. 8), performing rights organization BMI will celebrate Keith’s songwriting contributions by honoring him with the 2022 BMI Icon honor.

In 2021, Keith was honored with the National Medal of Arts, inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (having previously been inducted into the all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015), and was honored with the Academy of Country Music’s Merle Haggard spirit award.

Keith has earned 20 No. 1 Billboard Hot Country Songs hits, and he is a writer on many of his songs, including his debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” as well “American Soldier,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and “As Good as I Once Was.” In 2018, Keith also wrote and released the song “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” which was inspired by a conversation with Clint Eastwood and featured in Eastwood’s movie The Mule.

See the photo and video from Keith’s surprise performance below.

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