Jason Aldean Calls Toby Keith a ‘Huge Presence’

Jason Aldean is mourning the loss of one of his musical heroes. The Georgia native spoke out about Toby Keith‘s passing, and the impact Keith had on country music.

“Just waking up to the news of Toby Keith’s passing,” Aldean wrote, along with a few photos. “Today is a sad day for Country music and its fans. Toby was a huge presence in our business and someone we all looked up to and respected. You and your music will be forever remembered big man.”

It was only a few months ago that Keith surprised fans at an Aldean concert by joining him on stage during an Oklahoma show.

“It was good to see him in good spirits and doing well,” Aldean told Taste of Country. “I know he’s gone through a pretty tough couple of years here. You just hate to see that, but you love to see somebody get up and do what they’re so good at and have done for all these years.”

Fans might have been surprised to see Keith join Aldean during the show, but so was Aldean — sort of. Aldean had invited Keith to join him, but the “Don’t Let The Old Man In” singer wasn’t sure he could, due to a prior commitment he had, attending his grandson’s football game.

“I’m in the middle of that and I look over in the pit and people are already going crazy … he’s already walking on stage, just sashaying on stage like he does,” Aldean recalled. “Place went crazy.”

Aldean also praised Keith for making an appearance, especially in light of his ongoing cancer battle.

“He’s a tough guy,” Aldean said. “All the things he’s gone through the last couple years ‚ to still jump and play and still wanna do that — it says a lot about him.”

Keith announced in 2022 that he had stomach cancer, which he quietly dealt with for months before making the news public.

“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” Keith said. “I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.”

Keith was hoping to tour in 2024, after performing three sold-out shows in Las Vegas in December.

“It’s on the board,” Keith told Taste of Country Nights, On Demand in November. “They have got a great plan together, and we’ve built a new set, and we’re getting the trucks and buses fired up. Our plan is to go forward, don’t let this stuff define our future — let’s go.”

Keith’s latest project, 100% Songwriter, was out in November. All of his music can be found at TobyKeith.com