Toby Keith Joins Country Music Hall of Fame

Voting for inductees concluded days before his death
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2024 4:51 PM CDT
Toby Keith Joins Country Music Hall of Fame
Toby Keith performs at ACM Presents an All-Star Salute to the Troops on April 7, 2014, in Las Vegas.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

James Burton, John Anderson, and Toby Keith on Monday became the newest members to join the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Country Music Association announced the 2024 inductees in Nashville, Tennessee, with Burton, a guitarist who was Elvis Presley's band leader, entering in the recording/touring musician category. Meanwhile, Keith, who passed away just days after voting for inductees concluded, joins as the modern era artist. Anderson, a country star known for his distinctive voice and songwriting, joins as the veteran era artist. The three will be formally inducted during a ceremony in the fall.

While the celebratory ceremony focused on all three of the artists' contributions to country music and their influence, the event took a somber tone to reflect the passing of Keith, who died from stomach cancer in February, reports the AP. "My heart sank that Tuesday afternoon knowing that we missed the chance to inform Toby while he was still with us, but I have no doubt that he's smiling down on us, knowing that he'll always be 'as good as he once was,'" said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, quoting the title of one of Keith's biggest hits.

Trahern added that Keith's posthumous induction did not violate the Hall's rules against inducting an artist in the year of their death because he was selected before he died. Keith, a hit country crafter of pro-American anthems who riled up critics but was loved by millions of fans, died Feb. 5. The induction vote was finalized Feb. 2.

  • Burton said Monday that he initially thought he was being pranked when he got the call sharing the news that he was being inducted. He hung up the phone and quickly called back just to double check the call was real. "So much of my career was spent playing for incredible country artists and to now be going up on that wall with all those innovators and industry greats is just incredible," Burton said.

(More country music stories.)

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