Toby Keith + Tricia Covel — Country’s Greatest Love Stories
When Toby Keith (whose real last name is Covel) met his future wife Tricia Lucus, one thing stood out to her: his confidence.
That trait has taken Keith to some of the biggest stages in the world, but none of his accolades compare to something far more valuable: their 30-plus years of marriage.
Keith and Lucus were only 20 and 19, respectively, when they met at an Oklahoma nightclub in 1981.
"He was just one of those larger-than-life guys, full of confidence,” Lucus recalls to People magazine.
Keith tells Country Weekly, “She and I danced. I thought she was great.”
That dance certainly made an impact on both of them, and although they were young, the country singer knew that he wanted a lifetime of happiness with Lucus. The couple married on March 24, 1984, when Keith was 22 years old.
After they wed, Keith adopted Shelley, Lucus' daughter, who was born in 1980. They grew their family to include a daughter, Krystal Keith (who inherited her father's singing chops) and son, Stelen Keith Covel.
Keith provided for his family by working the Oklahoma oil fields with his dad -- a sometimes-dangerous job, in which he once witnessed a death on the field. But when the work dried up, he turned to music, playing with the Easy Money Band in bars for $35 a night (plus free beer), which is certainly not the ideal income to support a small family.
“He’d say, ‘Trish, one of these days, my time is coming. Hang in there,’” Lucus (now Tricia Covel) recalls.
Still, Keith's blushing bride was in full support of his ambitious music career.
"Dozens of people told Tricia, ‘You need to go tell your old man to get a real job,’” Keith says. “It took a strong-hearted and loving woman to say, ‘He’s good enough at music that I’ve got to let him try. And it’ll be a great shot for both of us if he can make it work.’”
With the unwavering support of his wife and undeniable talent, Keith's work paid off big time; his total career earnings are estimated at $500 million. He's definitely scored big in the entertainment industry, but Keith -- now a grandfather -- holds the truly valuable close to his heart.
“I absolutely love performing and writing songs," he says, "but being at home with my wife, Tricia, and my three kids is the best feeling of all.”