CMT Awards 2024: Toby Keith honoured with 'Red Solo Cup' tribute bringing his family to tears

8 April 2024, 11:50

Lainey Wilson was one of the country stars leading tributes to the late Toby Keith.
Lainey Wilson was one of the country stars leading tributes to the late Toby Keith. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Edward

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Toby Keith tragically died of stomach cancer on 5th February 2024.

The country music icon and singer of hits like 'As Good As I Once Was' sadly lost his battle with the cruel disease at the age of just 62.

It was an almighty blow to the country music community, who got their chance to pay tribute to the late Toby Keith at this year's CMT Music Awards.

Held at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas, several stars remembered Keith through a poignant series of tributes on the night.

The likes of Lainey Wilson, Brooks & Dunn, rocker Sammy Hagar, former baseball star Roger Clemens, and Lukas Nelson all shared their respects for Toby Keith both via song and on the podium.

Seeing the outpouring of love for Keith and his musical legacy, his family - who were in attendance - were moved to tears.

Paying homage to Keith's headstrong spirit, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn kicked off proceedings by covering his 1993 hit 'Should've Been A Cowboy'.

Former Van Halen frontman Hagar sang 'I Love This Bar' and regaled over tales of holidays with Keith in Mexico from years back.

"Toby and I closed the Cabo Wabo [bar] down a lot more times than probably we even remember. It's hard to get thrown out of your own bar, and we managed to do that."

In tribute to Keith's love of a good time, everyone in attendance raised a toast to the late singer in red cups, a reference to his 2011 track 'Red Solo Cup', just the way he would've done himself.

Riley Green and Willie Nelson's son Lukas - who also performed in Keith's band - introduced Lainey Wilson to the stage, who performed a rousing rendition of 'How Do You Like Me Now?'

Nelson opened by saying: "Toby was not a shy guy. He had a big personality. I met him when I was younger when he was working on 'Beer for My Horses' with my dad. I got lucky I got the opportunity to watch his artistry in person."

Green then said of the late singer: "That guy could come up with a hook like no other and sing the hell out of every song that he wrote, somehow only making it look easy."

"Right now, we have one of our favourite artists to perform one of our favourite Toby songs" as Wilson took to the stage.

One of the evening's most emotional moments however came when Keith's long-time friend and baseball star Roger Clemens took to the podium to say a few words.

After telling an anecdote about Keith's big, bold personality, Clemens turned to the late singer's family who were in the crowd and raised a toast in his memory.

"Thank you for sharing your dad with all of us. Thank you," he said, bringing the late musician's family to tears. "Trish, we love you. Thank you for sharing your husband with the world, Trish. Thank you."

Clemens then said: "Alright, real quick. Raise 'em up. Everybody at home, raise your fist if you don't have a Solo cup. Let Toby hear you. Repeat after me, 'Whiskey for my men,' and, 'Beer for my horses.' Let's go."

Toby Keith had a long-running history with the CMT Awards throughout his career, receiving a total of 30 nominations, seven belt buckles, the coveted Video of the Year prize in 2012, and even hosted twice alongside Pamela Anderson in 2003 and Kristen Bell in 2012.

The big winner on the night this year however was Jelly Roll, who took home took the Video of the Year award for 'Need a Favor' as well as Male Video of the Year and CMT Performance of the Year for the same song.

Lainey Wilson, Dan + Shay and Carly Pearce were also among the winners.