Toby Keith performs during his 2008 USO tour.
In a new interview with the Associated Press, Oklahoma country music star Toby Keith said he is the type to hold a grudge.
Keith, who currently is on his eighth United Service Organization tour, told an AP reporter he can forgive certain offenses “but if you’re gonna tell a lie about me, and then back it up like it’s the truth to try to make your star brighter … yeah, I’ve got a problem with that.”
Keith recently was embroiled in a controversy involving actor/writer Ethan Hawke, singer/songwriter/actor Kris Kristofferson and Rolling Stone magazine. In a feature story he wrote in Rolling Stone about Kristofferson, Hawke mentioned an ugly incident between Kristofferson and an unnamed country star who strongly resembled Keith. Keith vehemently denied the spat ever happened; Kristofferson said he has no memory of it.
Keith told the AP he deals with “haters” on a daily basis but makes no apologies for being outspoken, especially when it comes to supporting the troops.
“Anytime people are gonna put their life in jeopardy to make my world advance forward, I’m gonna pat ‘em on the back,” he says. “And if somebody wants to find something political out of it, then fine. But my dad taught us that those people ought to be respected.”
The Norman resident is performing 17 shows in 11 days for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. As he has on past tours, he will leave the heavily protected “green zone” and travel to two forward operating bases a day to perform for small groups of troops on the front lines.
He told the AP the danger of these shows concerns his wife and three children.
“We’ve been shot at a few times,” he says. “I’ve literally been in a foot race with other Marines and soldiers to the bunkers, with the sirens going off and mortars hitting.”
To read the rest of the AP interview with Keith, click here.