Name at birth: Toby Keith Covel
After working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and playing semi-pro football, Toby Keith went into the music business in the mid-1980s. After a few years as part of a successful nightclub act, he set out for Nashville in 1988. His eponymous 1993 debut album spawned several hit songs, including the number one single "Should've Been a Cowboy," and Keith became a star and frequent sight on Country Music Television. Hailed as a "traditionalist" in the genre, he followed up with enough hit songs to release a compilation of greatest hits just five years after his debut. His albums include Blue Moon (1996), How Do You Like Me Now (1999), Pull My Chain (2002), Unleashed (2002, including the hit duet with Willie Nelson, "Beer For My Horses"), Shock 'n Y'all (2003) and Big Dog Daddy (2007). His hit singles include "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "I Love This Bar," his popular 2003 paean to the warmth of a favorite tavern. Keith also had a controversial hit with "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a fiery anthem he wrote in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Contrary to popular rumor, Keith did not play in the short-lived United States Football League; he did play for the Oklahoma Drillers of a smaller (and also short-lived) semi-pro league called the United Football Teams of America, or UFTA, in 1983-84.