John Salangsang / Variety / Penske Media via Getty Images
Clint Eastwood took to social media to share his grief over Toby Keith’s death.
Keith passed away on Monday, February 5 at the age of 62. The singer was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021.
His family recognized the courage and bravery he demonstrated throughout his years-long battle with cancer. They said:
“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”
Keith’s fellow country stars mourned his death in tributes on social media. His death was also mourned by people outside of the country music community, including Clint Eastwood.
Keith and Eastwood were friends for years. The two of them participated in a charity golf tournament in 2017 in Pebble Beach, California. They shared a golf cart, and chatted about a movie Eastwood was planning to start working on.
That movie was The Mule. Keith told Eastwood he admired his drive to keep working at his age (he was 88 then) and asked how he did it.
Eastwood responded, “I just get up every morning and go out. And I don’t let the old man in.”
Keith immediately knew he had to write a song based on that concept. That song became “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”
He sent the track to Eastwood, and he loved it. He ended up including it in The Mule, because he thought it fit the movie perfectly.
“Don’t Let the Old Man In” didn’t take off right away after its initial release in 2018. But five years later, the song experienced renewed success after Keith performed it at the People’s Choice Country Awards. By the time he delivered that performance, Keith had been battling cancer for two years.
“Don’t Let the Old Man In” topped the iTunes country chart and was the most-added song at country radio after that performance.
Considering their long history together, Eastwood was understandably devastated to learn about Keith’s death. The 93-year-old actor shared a short statement on X (formerly Twitter).
“Extremely Saddened by the passing of Toby Keith, Rest in peace my friend…” Eastwood said.
Head below to hear Keith share more of the story behind “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” and how Eastwood inspired it.
May Toby Keith rest in peace…