NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 28: (L-R) Toby Keith and Tricia Lucus attend the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards at The Grand Ole Opry on September 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Inside Toby Keith's 40-Year Love Story With Wife Tricia Covel

Toby Keith's wife was by his side until the end.

For over 30 years, the late Toby Keith, who passed away on Feb. 5, 2024, was one of the most memorable personalities in country music. That could be what first attracted his wife Tricia Lucus Covel. The couple met young and defied all odds as one of the longest-lasting relationships in the music industry. 

Born Toby Keith Covel, the country legend had always loved music and even taught himself how to play the guitar. But after high school, he followed in his father's footsteps by working in the oil fields of Oklahoma. Music took a back seat as a hobby, but Keith continued to perform locally with his Easy Money Band. It was during one of these performances at a local bar where he met Tricia Lucus, who was working as a secretary. 

"I was 19, and he was 20," Tricia told People. "He was just one of those larger-than-life guys, full of confidence." 

After three years of dating, the couple tied the knot in 1984. Around the same time, the oil industry was faltering, so Keith shifted his focus to music. People told Tricia for years that her husband needed to get a "real job" to support his family. But she continued to believe in his music career and maintained things on the home front. Keith adopted Tricia's daughter Shelley (born in 1980), and the couple extended their family to include second daughter, Krystal (known as Krystal Keith).

The singer-songwriter worked hard for nearly a decade until he finally hit it big in Nashville with the 1993 single "Should've Been a Cowboy." His number one debut hit was an incredibly impressive debut that allowed Keith's career to skyrocket to the top of the music scene. 

Keith told People that the success he found from his debut album and beyond really pushed him.

"It just made me fight harder," he said. "You get too popular; people get tired of you being on top. I've never had that superstar status. So my candle hasn't burned out."

Throughout the 30-plus years of success that followed Keith's 1993 breakthrough, Tricia occasionally painted us pictures of what her superstar husband is like away from the stage.

"Most people think he is just the most romantic person on the planet," she told People in 2001. "He has his moments of charm. It is nice to get a bouquet of flowers, but I've told him, 'Save the money. Roses die in five to seven days. Buy me an outfit or take me to dinner.'"

Tricia remained by her spouse's side until his Feb. 5, 2024 death following a bout with cancer.

Keith's final awards show appearance came on Sept. 28, 2023 at the first-ever People's Choice Country Awards. It was the last of several red carpet appearances by the couple. That night, Keith won the Country Icon Award and sang "Don't Let the Old Man In" live. Notably, Keith's performance left Tricia in tears.

Toby Keith's Kids

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 16: (L-R) Singer Krystal Sandubrae, designer Tricia Covel and Shelley Covel attend the debut of SWINGDISH women's golf apparel 2017 spring/summer collection by designer Tricia Covel during the PGA show at Topgolf Las Vegas on August 16, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The couple welcomed another child, son Stelen Keith Covel in 1997, while Keith continued to release hit country songs through the '90s. Despite now having a net worth in the millions and releasing nearly 20 studio albums, the country star got the most joy from his family.

Daughter Krystal is a country singer, and the Covel family has welcomed three grandchildren so far. If there's one thing to take away from Toby Keith's wife, Tricia Covel, it's to believe in your partner's dreams.

The Toby Keith Foundation

WESTWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 10: Toby Keith and Tricia Lucus attend the Warner Bros. Pictures world premiere of "The Mule" held at Regency Village Theatre on December 10, 2018 in Westwood, California.

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Over the years, Tricia worked alongside her husband in his charitable efforts, serving as the vice president of the Toby Keith Foundation.

The foundation has benefitted children with cancer since 2006. Its no-cost housing initiative allows entire families to stay at the OK Kids Korral. The Oklahoma City facility benefits patients receiving treatment at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, Stephenson Cancer Center and other nearby hospitals.

"There is no greater gift than keeping families strong and together during a difficult time," the foundations's website reads. "If we can alleviate stress on a family, encourage a brother or sister and comfort a sick child, then we will make a difference in the fight against cancer."

Editor's Note: This story previously ran on Jan. 10, 2021. It was updated on Feb. 6, 2024.

READ MORE: Toby Keith Through the Years: Look Back at His Life in Photos