Inside the Feud Between Toby Keith and The Chicks’ Natalie Maines

By: ScreenGawk Staff | Published: Feb 15, 2024

In the early 2000s, two of America’s biggest stars locked horns in a lengthy feud that began over a difference in political opinion.

Toby Keith, a country singer, and Natalie Maines of the band The Chicks had a public dispute that lasted several years before one singer abruptly ended the conflict after receiving devastating news.

Sensitive Political Era

Toby Keith was a well-known country superstar, loved across America for his authentic music.

Toby Keith pictured onstage at the iHeartCountry Festival in 2021

Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

During the sensitive political era that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, he and Natalie Maines of the Texas band The Chicks entered into a prolonged dispute over a difference in political opinions (via The Sun).

Beginning of the Beef

The dispute between Keith and The Chicks can be traced back to comments Maines made about a song released by the country singer, according to Wide Open Country.

Natalie Maines of The Chicks performs at the Ohana Music Festival

Source: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

In 2002, Keith released the highly patriotic “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American),” written in response to the 9/11 attacks and as a tribute to his veteran father.

Maines Expresses Dislike Toward Keith’s Music

When asked what she thought of Keith’s song, Maines didn’t hold back.

A blonde female reporter is pictured with her arm extended, holding a microphone

Source: Freepik

“I hate it … It makes country music sound ignorant,” she said in 2022 (via CMT). “It targets an entire culture — and not just the bad people who did bad things.”

Maines Continues to Dis Keith

In the interview with the Los Angeles Daily News in August 2002, Maines continued bashing Keith’s song.

Singer-songwriters Taylor Swift and Natalie Maines of the band The Chicks In Los Angeles at Staples Cente

Source: Christopher Polk/TAS/Getty Images

“You’ve got to have some tact. Anybody can write, ‘We’ll put a boot in your a**.’ But a lot of people agree with it,” she said (via CMT).

Strong Difference in Opinion

Clearly, Keith and Maines had fairly different opinions regarding America’s foreign policy and its role in the war in Iraq.

An American soldier is pictured holding the U.S. national flag.

Source: Freepik

During a trip to London in 2003, Maines bashed the then-president George W. Bush and the war. “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas,” she said (via Wide Open Country).


Keith Keeps the Beef Alive

Unimpressed with Maine’s continuous attacks, Keith decided to fire back during a concert.

A man wearing a cowboy hat is pictured playing his guitar during sundown

Source: Freepik

According to Wide Open Country, Keith kept the beef alive by “displaying a doctored photo of Maines next to Saddam Hussein at his concerts.”



Not long after Keith’s stunt, The Chicks were pictured on stage wearing a T-shirt with the letters F.U.T.K. According to Maines at the time, the acronym meant “Friends United in Truth and Kindness.”

The Chicks pictured with several awards at the 42nd Annual Grammy’s

Source: Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

However, others weren’t so sure. Eventually, in their 2006 documentary, “Shut up and Sing,” Maines admitted the letters actually meant “F*** You Toby Keith.”


Keith Finally Ends the Prolonged Dispute

While the beef didn’t show any signs of stopping, it eventually came to a halt in 2003.

A man is pictured as a tear rolls down the side of his face

Source: Freepik

Keith eventually decided to bury the hatchet after receiving the terrible news that one of his close friends had lost a child.


'Enough Is Enough'

“You know, a best friend of mine, the guy that started the first band I was ever in, he lost a two-year-old daughter to cancer — this was just a couple of weeks ago,” Keith said (via The Sun).

A mother holds her young daughter in her arms

Source: Freepik

“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. It seemed so insignificant. I said, ‘Enough is enough,'” he continued.


'I Didn't Start This Battle'

After calling time on the dispute with Maines, Keith tried to reiterate to the media that he wasn’t the one who started the fight in the first place.

A man pictured yelling at a woman as the two engage in an argument

Source: Freepik

“People try to make everything black and white. I didn’t start this battle. They started it with me; they came out and just tore me up. One thing I’ve never, ever done, out of jealousy or anything else, is to bash another artist and their artistic license,” he said (via The Sun).


Unfortunate Death of Country Star

The unfortunate news of Keith’s death began circulating online last week as the country star died from stomach cancer.

Toby Keith pictured as he performs onstage at the 2022 BMI Country Awards

Source: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

During his treatments, Keith continued to perform. “Cancer is a roller coaster,” he told News 9 during an interview last month. “You just sit here and wait on it to go away. It might never go away.”