A Look Back At Toby Keith's Feud With The Chicks (& How They Moved On From The Drama)

Country music star Toby Keith died at age 62 on February 5, 2024, and his friends, fans, and the country music community are mourning his loss. Keith's career as a singer spanned decades, and one of his more popular — and more controversial — songs was "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)." It was written as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and it includes the lines "And you'll be sorry that you messed with / The U.S. of A. / 'Cause we'll put a boot in your a** / It's the American way." The 2002 single was definitely a polarizing song, as some people loved it and others couldn't stand it.

In the latter category was Natalie Maines, lead vocalist of The Chicks (who officially changed their name from The Dixie Chicks in 2020). In a 2002 interview with Los Angeles Daily News, Maines explained why she didn't like the song. "It makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture — and not just the bad people who did bad things. You've got to have some tact," she said, as reported by The Oklahoman. That kicked off a feud that would last for months and only came to an end after someone close to Keith experienced a death in their family.

Natalie Maines' feud with Toby Keith escalated through much of 2003

Toby Keith obviously heard what Maines had said about him, and he had some thoughts. "I'm a songwriter. She's not," Keith said during a 2002 interview, per CMT.com. "She can say my song is ignorant, then it's ignorant for her to say that because she's not a songwriter."

A few months later, in March 2003, Maines found herself in a feud with not just Keith but with the seeming entirety of country music after she made comments about then-President George W. Bush at a concert in London. "We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas," Maines said, via Entertainment Weekly. Keep in mind that this was just before the Iraq War started. Maines's comment got The Chicks blacklisted in country music.

Keith, who was particularly patriotic, seemed to respond to Maines' comment by displaying doctored images of Maines and Saddam Hussein during his concerts, with the connotation being that she was a terrorist.

Toby Keith realized there was more important things in life

Not long after Natalie Maines and The Chicks found themselves the subject of country music station boycotts after Maines' comment about the Iraq War, it was time for the Academy of Country Music Awards. Held in May 2003, Maines showed up at the show wearing a shirt that had the letters "F-U-T-K" on it. She said, then, that it stood for "Friends United in Truth and Kindness." Later, in the 2006 documentary "Shut Up & Sing," Maines said what everyone had been thinking — it meant "f*** you Toby Keith." The feud between the two was of such note in the country music world that it got its own half-hour TV special, airing on CMT News in 2003.

The back and forth between Maines and Keith finally stopped. For Keith, it came after the two-year-old daughter of one of his best friends and bandmates died of cancer. Keith explained how the two things were connected in an interview. "A few days after I found she didn't have long to live, I saw a picture on the cover of 'Country Weekly' with a picture of me and Natalie and it said, 'Fight to the Death' or something," he said. "It seemed so insignificant. I said, 'Enough is enough,'" via ContactMusic.com.