Sad news in the music world this past week. Country music lost a big artist to cancer. A man who has cranked out more charting country singles than anyone else in the business. I'm talking about the life of the party, Mr. Toby Keith.

STORY TIME: The time I met Toby Keith

I have this memory every time I find myself in the "bar-muda" triangle of downtown Missoula. It was the end of January 2003. I had just started back up with classes at the U of M. I was living with a roommate who was a big fan of electronic music. One night I called my roommate to invite him out for a beer. He told me to meet him at Red's. When I arrived he grabbed me and said "I got to introduce you to my new friend."That is when he tapped a guy wearing baggy pants and a wool hoodie on the shoulder. When he turned to shake my hand, I realized he was Toby Keith. My roommate had no clue who he was because he never listened to country music. He was just chopping it up and making friends with random people at the bar.

I asked Toby why he was dressed up like a skater. He told me that it was easier to blend in and make friends if he didn't wear his cowboy hat. We laughed and he bought a round of beers before he left to prepare for a concert at the Adams Center. In short, Toby was a pretty cool dude.

2014 MGM Grand Showcase Basketball Event - Oklahoma v Washington
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Toby Keith passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 62. He was best known for his hit singles like:

Should Have Been a Cowboy

Beer for My Horses

Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

BUT, We can't forget one of Toby Keith's masterpieces.

I Love This Bar

The legendary SIP N DIP Lounge in Great Falls is possibly the most famous bar in Montana. One of the things that made the SIP N DIP so special was their live performances from everyone's favorite entertainer "Piano Pat."

"Piano Pat" would play just about anything for her crowd of thirsty friends. One of her favorites was her rendition of Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar."

"Piano Pat" passed away in 2021, but her memory lives on. Much like Toby Keith's memory will live on every time we "belly up" at our favorite bar or raise our "red solo cup" for a toast to friends.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe

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