Toby Keith played a pivotal role in launching the careers of Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton.

Country Music Legend Toby Keith Helped Launch Careers Of Blake Shelton And Taylor Swift

Yesterday, we reported that the country music star, Toby Keith, passed away on Monday night at the age of 62 after a battle with stomach cancer. Now, it’s been revealed that Keith helped kickstart the careers of Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift in a major way.

Keith And Shelton

Fox News reported that when Shelton first moved to Nashville, he was preparing the song “I Wanna Talk About Me” as his first single, but it was given to Keith instead and became a No. 1 single. In 2003, Shelton joined Keith on tour as his opening act on his Shock’N Y’all Tour.

Shelton honored Keith at the People’s Choice Country Awards back in September.

“They say your big break comes when you sign a record deal or your first song comes out. And for me, one of those things was to get the chance to open for Toby Keith,” Shelton said at the time. “Back when I was a new artist, I got the chance to go out on the road with Toby and then, night after night, 20,000 fans showed up to see Toby perform, and he kept them fat and happy.”

Shelton went on to say that it took about two years for him to feel comfortable enough to joke with Keith on tour.

“I remember one night, it was after an award show,” Shelton recalled. “And Toby had been up for like four or five awards and, man, he didn’t win crap that night. I was talking to him after that, and I had the nerve — I was so excited to be able to get under his skin — I said, ‘Man, Toby, if I ever make it big enough one day and I get nominated for some awards, I hope it’s against you.’

“I swear, Toby looked at me and he said, ‘You know why I brought you out on tour with me?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he goes, ‘I wanted to prove to this industry that I don’t really need an opening act,’” he added.

Shelton spoke out to honor Keith after his death.

“Even though I knew about your battle these last few months I still never imagined this day,” he said. “Anyone who knew you knows what I mean. You were the toughest man I ever met. Thank you brother for being a friend, a hero and an inspiration. There will never be another Toby Keith.”

Keith Helped Taylor Swift

Keith also helped launch the career of Taylor Swift. He started his own label, Show Dog Nashville, back in 2005, the same year Big Machine Records launched. Founded by Scott Borchett, Big Machine Records was Swift’s original label, and she proceeded to sign with Keith.

Swift said at the time, “You’re in the room with him and you can feel it. There’s a power there. You’re just like, ‘Oh my God.’ I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I won’t see him and be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Toby Keith.’”

Keith reportedly held a 10% stake in Big Machine and bought a building in Nashville to house both labels.

“Toby’s a really smart businessman. I send him checks,” Borchetta said in 2013.

“I know there’s an extra comma if you added up all the money I’ve ever made,” Keith said at the time, referring to the money brought in by Swift.

Keith’s family announced his death earlier this week.

“Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by family,” read a statement on Keith’s website. “He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time.”

Please join us in saying a prayer for Keith’s loved ones during this difficult time.