Toby Keith was still the pit bull that he always was amid his battle with stomach cancer. Keith showed poise, dignity and strength during his brave fight, and he was even planning to return to touring.

During my final interview with the country music legend, late in 2023, Keith seemed as if he was on the backend of the illness and he was going to be able to not only survive it, but continue to play music afterward.

When I asked Keith if he was making plans for 2024 already, he replied, "Yeah! It's on the board. All my team have got together and said, 'This is a good time to do something really special.'"

Keith continued,

"So they've put this thing together, intricately, beat on it for six months. They've got a great plan together, and we built a new set, and we're getting the trucks and busses fired up. Our plan is to go forward, don't let this stuff define our future, let's go."

From an interviewer's standpoint, hearing and seeing Keith say these things, I was truly convinced that he had a handle on his illness, knew more than he let on and was ready to motor into 2024.

Keith told me that he could go for three hours on stage if he had to. After the interview, in late 2023, Keith made good on his word and played a few sold-out shows in Las Vegas. Those shows turned out to be his final career triumph, as he died on Feb. 5 after battling cancer since 2021.

Listen to the final Taste of Country interview with Keith on the latest episode of Taste of Country Nights on Demand.

Evan Paul is the host of Taste of Country Nights, a syndicated radio show heard on more than 120 country radio stations nationwide, every night from 7PM to midnight. He plays the best new country music and interviews today's top stars, like Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Dan + Shay, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Lady A, Morgan Wallen, + more! 

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Gallery Credit: Carena Liptak

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Gallery Credit: Evan Paul