Jason Aldean Honors Toby Keith With Heartbreaking “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” ACM Awards Tribute Performance

Toby Keith was a fixture at the Academy of Country Music Awards during his 30-year career. The country icon took home a Career Achievement Award in 2013, a Poets Award in 2016, and the Merle Haggard Spirit Award in 2020. The world of country music has felt Keith’s absence since he died of stomach cancer in February at age 62. That absence was even more pronounced during the 59th Annual ACM Awards Thursday (May 16.) Fortunately, country superstar Jason Aldean made sure his old friend was warmly remembered.

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Jason Aldean Honors Toby Keith at ACM Awards

Keith jump-started his career with the 1993 single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” The track reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Three decades later, it is still perhaps Keith’s signature song.

So it made perfect sense for Aldean to salute the late country legend with a performance of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” Photos showing Keith’s electrifying live performances over the years as Aldean paid homage to his friend.

In an Instagram story Tuesday (May 14), the “Big Green Tractor” singer said the honor was all his.

“Honored to pay tribute to my friend, the one and only @tobykeith with a special performance of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” at the @acmawards,” Aldean wrote. “Join me as we celebrate his legacy and the mark he left on country music.”

Remember When Toby Keith and Blake Shelton Rocked the 2018 ACM Awards?

Toby Keith always could bring the house down. He treated ACM Award audiences to many memorable performances throughout the year. Perhaps none made more of an impression than his duet of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” with Blake Shelton.

The two Okies took the stage at the 2018 ACM Awards for a rousing rendition of Keith’s first hit. NBC described the performance as “country magic.”

The “American Soldier” singer was no stranger to delivering knockout performances. Just two months before his death, Keith performed three sold-out shows in Las Vegas.

“It’s been a while. You know what I’ve been doing,” the Country Music Hall of Famer said in an October 2023 YouTube video announcing the shows. “I’ve been on the old rollercoaster but almighty’s riding shotgun. He’s letting me drive for some reason,.”

Featured image by Rick Kern/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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