Toby Keith Rep Says The Singer Was ‘Misunderstood’

Twitter/Tim McGraw

The passing of Country music legend Toby Keith has left the world mourning, as fans and friends reflect on the great impact he had on the industry and those around him.

A Close Friend to Toby Speaks Out

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Elaine Schock, Toby Keith’s representative and longtime friend, offered a glimpse into the Toby she knew beyond the public spotlight.

“Toby was kind. I think he was misunderstood because he was painted a certain way but that was an incorrect portrait,” Schock told PEOPLE. “He was so much more. He was certainly one of the most courageous men I knew.”

And, much like countless others, Schock admired Toby, portraying him as “brilliant,” “fun to be with,” and someone she could have “robust” conversations with. She also acknowledged his incredible talent, praising his ability to “write and sing his ass off.”

Expressing the difficulty of coming to terms with his passing, Schock admitted, “I’m not quite sure how to maneuver in a world without Toby yet. I hate the thought of it.”

Toby Keith’s official social media accounts confirmed the news on Tuesday, February 6, revealing that the artist had died after a two-year battle with stomach cancer at the age of 62.

“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.”


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A post shared by Toby Keith (@tobykeith)

Country Artists Pay Their Respects

Following the news, numerous celebrities who knew Toby have shared their respects for the singer. Music sensations like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and many more have paid tribute to Toby and his achievements.


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A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton)


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A post shared by Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood)

As the world remembers him for his music, those close to him are striving to make sure that the true essence of Toby Keith is not lost in the narrative— a man of compassion, brilliance, and undeniable courage.

See more artist reactions HERE.

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