Toby Keith Once Revealed The Heartbreaking Story Behind His Decision To End Feud With Natalie Maines

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Country singers Toby Keith and Natalie Maines, of The Chicks, had a well-known feud in 2002-2003.

Keith, who passed away at 62, later revealed that a personal tragedy led him to reconcile.

Toby Keith sadly passed away on February 5.

The following day, Keith’s family shared the tragic news of his passing from stomach cancer, a battle he fought since 2021. They expressed their sorrow in a statement posted on social media.

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th 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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RELATED: Toby Keith’s Family “Shattered” Following His Death

If you wish to support the family, they kindly ask for donations to be made to the Toby Keith Foundation, benefiting the OK Kids Korral, which serves as a home-away-from-home for families with children undergoing cancer treatments.

If you’d like to donate, please visit the Toby Keith Foundation’s official website here.

What was the Toby Keith and Natalie Maines feud about?

Keith’s patriotic songs, like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” stirred contention with Maines, who criticised the song as “ignorant.” Additionally, Maines made controversial remarks about President George W. Bush during a concert in London in 2003, further exacerbating the feud.

“I hate it…It makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture — and not just the bad people who did bad things,” she expressed. “You’ve got to have some tact. Anybody can write, ‘We’ll put a boot in your ass.’ But a lot of people agree with it.”

Keith later addressed Maines’s criticism in an interview with CMT, disregarding her opinion because she was “not a songwriter.” He likened her perspective on his music to that of a homeless person. On top of that, he briefly displayed a manipulated photo of Maines and Saddam Hussein at his concerts.

At the Academy of Country Music Awards in May 2003, both the Chicks and Keith were nominated for Entertainer of the Year. Keith won, but Maines made waves by wearing a T-shirt with the acronym FUTK, which she claimed meant “Friends United in Truth and Kindness,” though many interpreted it as a dig at Keith.

Toby Keith performs during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival at Frank Irwin Center on October 30, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Toby Keith performs during the 2021 iHeartCountry Festival. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire, Dixie Chicks (Photo by M. Von Holden/FilmMagic)
Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire, Dixie Chicks (Photo by M. Von Holden/FilmMagic/GettyImages)

Despite the animosity, Keith had a change of heart in August 2003. He shared with Contact Music that a recent personal tragedy had shifted his perspective, inspiring him to focus on what truly mattered in life, rather than dwelling on trivial matters.

“A best friend of mine, the guy that started the first band I was ever in, he lost a 2-year-old daughter to cancer,” he said. “A few days after I found she didn’t have long to live, I saw a picture on the cover of Country Weekly with a picture of me and Natalie and it said ‘Fight to the Death’ or something. It seemed so insignificant. I said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Two months later, Keith admitted to reporters that he had taken time to reflect on the situation. He expressed regret for the way things unfolded between him and Maines.

“I’m embarrassed about the way I let myself get sucked into all of that. I disappointed myself,” he said. “I didn’t disappoint anybody else. Everybody else loved it. They wanted me to attack that. But I probably disappointed myself more than anything, because I’m better than that. It got pretty vicious sometimes, putting her and Saddam Hussein up on the screen. That was funny for a night or two, and then it was a little over the top for me. I’m not that mean.”

He continued: “I just said, ‘You know what? She’s getting kicked enough without me piling on.’ She would have the same thing she got without me even saying a word. I’ll know better. I’ll learn something next time…Maybe.”

We’re glad to hear they resolved their differences and put an end to their feud. Take a listen to the song that sparked the tension below.