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Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

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Toby Keith, a popular country singer known for his pro-American anthems who enraged detractors while also winning over millions of admirers, has died. He was 62.

According to a statement on his website, the singer-songwriter of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” who had stomach cancer, passed away peacefully on Monday with his family by his side. “He fought his fight with grace and courage,” the statement read. He disclosed his cancer diagnosis in 2022.

The 6-foot-4 vocalist rose to prominence during the country boom of the 1990s, producing songs that listeners enjoyed hearing. Throughout his career, he publicly clashed with other celebrities and journalists and frequently fought against record executives who sought to tame his rough edges.

He was recognized for his overt patriotism in post-9/11 songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” as well as loud barroom songs like “I Love This Bar” and “Red Solo Cup.” He possessed a big, booming voice, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and a range that could carry love and drinking songs.

Toby Keith health: What's happening with his stomach cancer battle

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

His 20 No. 1 Billboard successes included “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “My List,” and “Beer for My Horses,” a duet with Willie Nelson. His influences included fellow working-class songwriters such as Merle Haggard, and he had more than 60 singles on the Hot Country chart over his career.

Keith continues to perform despite his cancer treatments, most recently in Las Vegas in December. In 2023, he also performed at the People’s Choice Country Awards with his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

“Cancer is a roller coaster,” he told KWTV in an interview broadcast last month. “You simply sit here and wait for it to go away. “It may never go away.”

Keith worked as a roughneck in Oklahoma’s oil fields as a young man, then played semi-pro football before beginning his singing career.

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Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

“I write and sing about life, and I don’t overanalyze things,” Keith told The Associated Press in 2001, following the popularity of his song “I’m Just Talking About Tonight.”

Keith received valuable lessons in the growing oil fields, which toughened him up and taught him the importance of money.

“The money to be made was unbelievable,” Keith told the Associated Press in 1996. “I graduated from high school in 1980, and they hired me in December 1979 for $50,000 a year. “I was 18 years old.

However, the domestic oilfield business crumbled, and Keith was not saved. “It almost broke us,” he admitted. “So, I just learned. I took care of my money this time.”

He played a few seasons as a defensive end for the Oklahoma City Drillers, a farm team for the now-defunct United States Football League. But he made consistent money playing music with his band on Oklahoma and Texas’s red dirt roadhouse circuit.

“All through this whole thing, the only constant thing we had was music,” he said. “But it’s difficult to sit back and say, ‘I’m going to make a fortune singing or writing music.’ I had no contacts.

His path eventually led him to Nashville, where he piqued the eye of Mercury Records’ head, Harold Shedd, best known for producing the success group Alabama. Shedd signed him to Mercury, where he launched his platinum debut album, “Toby Keith,” in 1993.

Country singer Toby Keith dies at 62 after battling stomach cancer |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

His breakout hit, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” was played 3 million times on radio stations, making it the most popular country song of the 1990s.

However, the label’s focus on worldwide superstar Shania Twain eclipsed the rest of the group, and Keith believed that the executives were attempting to steer him in a pop path.

“They were trying to get me to compromise, and I was living a miserable existence,” Keith was quoted as saying by the AP. “Everybody was trying to mould me into something I was not.”

Keith signed with DreamWorks Records in 1999, following a string of albums that included singles including “Who’s That Man” and a cover of Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying.”

That’s when his multiweek hit “How Do You Like Me Now?!” went viral and became his first Top 40 smash. In 2001, he won male vocalist and album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, screaming on stage, “I’ve waited a long time for this. “Nine years!”

Keith frequently wore his politics on his sleeve, particularly following the terrorist attacks on American soil in 2001, and he initially identified as a conservative Democrat before later claiming to be independent. He performed in events for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, who awarded him the National Medal of the Arts in 2021. His music and forthright opinions occasionally sparked controversy, which he appeared to relish.

His 2002 song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” carried a threat — “We’ll put a boot in your ass — It’s the American way” — to anyone who attempted to interfere with America.

That song was removed from a patriotic ABC Fourth of July special because producers felt it was too furious for the broadcast. Singer-songwriter Steve Earle described Keith’s song as “pandering to people’s worst instincts at a time when they are hurt and scared.”

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Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

Then there was the conflict between Keith and The Chicks (previously known as the Dixie Chicks), who became Keith’s target after singer Natalie Maines informed a crowd that they were embarrassed by then-President George W. Bush. Maines had previously described Keith’s song as “ignorant.”

Keith, who had previously stated that he backed any artist’s right to express their political views, juxtaposed a doctored photo of Maines with an image of Saddam Hussein at his shows, inciting even more outrage among fans.

Maines retaliated by wearing a blouse with the letters “FUTK” onstage at the 2003 ACM Awards, which many people saw as a rude message to Keith.

Keith, who has admitted to holding grudges, stormed out of the ACM Awards early in 2003 after being spurned in earlier categories, missing out when he was named entertainer of the year. Vincent Gill accepted on his behalf. He returned the following year and won the top prize for the second year in a row, as well as best male vocalist and album of the year for “Shock ‘n Y’all.”

His pro-military stance was more than just material for songs. He embarked on 11 USO trips to visit and perform for overseas troops. Throughout his career, he has helped raise millions of dollars for charity, including constructing a home in Oklahoma City for children with cancer and their families.

Keith restarted his career after Universal Music Group acquired DreamWorks, launching his record label, Show Dog, in 2005 alongside record executive Scott Borchetta, who founded his label, Big Machine.

“Probably 75% of the people in this town think I’ll fail, and the other 25% hope I fail,” he said.

Keith, Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, Josh Thompson, Clay Walker, and Phil Vassar were among the artists signed to the label, which later became Show Dog-Universal Music.

His following singles were “Love Me If You Can,” “She Never Cried in Front of Me,” and “Red Solo Cup.” He was elected into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

He received the BMI Icon award in November 2022, a few months after announcing his stomach cancer diagnosis.

“I always believed that songwriting was the most important aspect of this entire industry,” Keith told the audience of fellow singers and writers.

SOURCE – (AP)

Business

Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

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Amazon will collaborate with Diamond Sports as part of a restructuring arrangement as the largest owner of regional sports networks seeks to exit bankruptcy.

Diamond controls 18 networks under the Bally Sports label. Those networks own 37 professional teams, including 11 baseball, 15 NBA, and 11 NHL.

Diamond Sports has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District of Texas since filing in March. In a late 2021 financial file, the corporation reported $8.67 billion in debt.

Diamond Sports announced the terms of the transaction Wednesday morning. Amazon has no comments. It is still subject to clearance by the bankruptcy court.

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Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

The agreement with Diamond Sports’ main creditors permits the company to emerge from bankruptcy, continue operations and avoid a catastrophic collapse of the regional sports network system, which would force the NBA, NHL, and MLB to step in and take over production and distribution of the majority of their teams.

Last season, MLB was forced to take over production and distribution of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks after Diamond let rights payments to the Padres lapse and could not reach an improved agreement with the Diamondbacks.

According to the terms of the restructuring deal, Amazon will make a minority investment in Diamond and enter into a commercial agreement to provide access to Diamond’s content through Prime Video.

Customers can watch their local team’s programming on Prime Video channels, which Diamond holds rights to. Price and availability will be revealed at a later date. Regional sports material will still be available on cable and satellite providers.

Amazon Prime already offers some New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games broadcast by the YES Network.

Diamond has also agreed, in principle, with Sinclair Broadcast Group to resolve pending litigation between the businesses.

Sinclair acquired the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company for almost $10 billion in 2019. The Department of Justice forced Disney to sell the networks before its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets could be approved.

Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

Even before Sinclair purchased the regional networks, the company was experiencing a downturn owing to cord-cutting and declining advertising revenue after entering into excessive long-term contracts with certain teams.

Diamond Sports Group was spun out from Sinclair last year after reaching an arrangement with its creditors.

Sinclair will pay Diamond $495 million as part of the settlement and will continue supporting Diamond’s reorganization. The settlement monies will also be used to repay some creditors.

“We are thrilled to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement that provides a detailed framework for a reorganization plan and substantial new financing that will enable Diamond to operate and thrive beyond 2024,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in a statement.

“We are appreciative for Amazon’s and a handful of our top creditors’ backing, as they obviously believe in the business’s value-creation potential.

amazon

Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

Diamond’s immediate priority will be to implement the RSA and emerge from bankruptcy as a going concern for the benefit of our investors, staff, team, league and distribution partners, and the millions of fans who will continue to watch our broadcasts.”

Diamond just finalized agreements with the NHL and NBA to retain local rights through the end of the current season. It is still in talks with Major League Baseball about reworking agreements for the upcoming season, with the next court hearing set for Friday.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

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Bitcoin surged temporarily on Tuesday when the US markets regulator’s X account (previously Twitter) announced the approval of new cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later deleted the message, stating that its account had been “compromised”.

The social networking company stated that the compromised account did not result from a system breach.

US regulators are scheduled to announce the new ETFs this week.

The bogus post was published on the SEC’s official X account shortly after 16:00 Washington time (21:00 GMT).

bitcoin

Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

It stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission “grants approval for #Bitcoin ETFs for listing on all registered national securities exchanges”.

Social media users and business news sources quickly shared and quoted the tweet.

Within minutes, SEC Chair Gary Gensler tweeted a response on his personal X account contradicting the incorrect announcement: “The @SECGov Twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted.” The SEC has not approved the listing or trading spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.”

“The SEC has determined that there was unauthorized access to and activity on the @SECGov x.com account by an unknown party for a brief period of time shortly after 4 pm ET,” a spokeswoman for the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

“That unauthorized access has been terminated,” they went on to say. “The SEC will work with law enforcement and our partners across government to investigate the matter and determine appropriate next steps relating to both the unauthorized access and any related misconduct.”

Later on Tuesday, X announced that it had finished a preliminary investigation into the bogus post on the SEC’s account and determined that it was not the result of a breach of the social media platform’s systems.

“We can confirm that the account @SECGov was compromised and we have completed a preliminary investigation,” X stated.

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Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

“Based on our investigation, the compromise was not due to any breach of X’s systems, but rather due to an unidentified individual obtaining control over a phone number associated with the @SECGov account through a third party,” according to the statement.

“We can also confirm that the account did not have two-factor authentication enabled at the time the account was compromised.”

Bitcoin surged to about $48,000 (£37,800) shortly after the incorrect article before falling back to roughly $46,000.

Investors are eagerly anticipating the SEC’s news on the potential approval of spot bitcoin ETFs, which is expected this week.

It would be a significant milestone for the cryptocurrency market’s acceptance in mainstream financial markets.

Several asset management firms have sought SEC clearance for spot Bitcoin ETFs.

ETFs are portfolios that allow investors to wager on various assets without having to buy them individually.

bitcoin

Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

They trade like shares on stock exchanges, and the performance of the entire portfolio in real time determines their value.

Some ETFs already indirectly contain Bitcoin; however, a spot Bitcoin ETF will buy the cryptocurrency directly, “on the spot” at its current price throughout the day.

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates without a central authority or banks. It allows for peer-to-peer transactions to take place directly without the need for intermediaries. The technology behind bitcoin, known as blockchain, ensures the security and transparency of these transactions.

With a limited supply of 21 million coins, bitcoin is often seen as a hedge against inflation and a store of value. Its fluctuating price has led to both skepticism and enthusiasm among investors and has sparked discussions about the future of finance and monetary systems.

SOURCE – BBC

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Warner Bros Discovery And Paramount In Merger Talks

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According to several media sources, Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global are in early talks to unite.

The owner of HBO channels and CNN would collaborate on the arrangement with the company behind the Mission Impossible movie and CBS News.

The transaction would unite two of Hollywood’s “Big Five” companies, with Warner and Paramount having a combined market value of $38 billion (£30 billion).

The talks are in their early stages, and a deal may not be reached.

According to the news site Axios, Warner CEO David Zaslav and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish discussed a prospective merger during lunch this week in New York.

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Warner Bros Discovery And Paramount In Merger Talks

Streaming episodes and films has forced traditional media businesses to invest swiftly to compete with Netflix, Amazon Video, and Apple TV.

Warner and Paramount have had to commit to significant cost-cutting to reduce billions of dollars in losses from their video streaming businesses.
As a result, their stock prices remain significantly below their all-time highs in the early days of streaming.

According to Axios, the CEOs discussed how their respective companies’ primary streaming services, Paramount Plus and Max (previously HBO Max), could unite to better compete with Netflix and Disney Plus.

The company is under a lot of pressure to find a buyer or strategic partner because of the amount of debt accumulated in recent years while expanding its streaming service.

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Warner Bros Discovery And Paramount In Merger Talks

According to analysts, Warner Bros., the firm behind this year’s blockbuster Barbie, has a little better cash situation, partly thanks to some astute mergers.

Last year, AT&T’s WarnerMedia division and Discovery merged to form Warner Bros. Discovery, which comprised Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, and properties such as Batman and Harry Potter.

Paramount owns CBS, the BBC’s US partner.

According to media reports, additional industry consolidation is on the way.

Netflix’s and other large internet companies’ domination in the media arena is undeniable, not just in terms of financial performance but also in enormous portfolios of shows and subscriber numbers.

paramount

Warner Bros Discovery And Paramount In Merger Talks

In recent months, Netflix’s crackdown on account-sharing resulted in the creation of new accounts, primarily in the United States, Canada, and Europe, increasing the company’s overall number of customers to 247.2 million worldwide.

As of November 2023, the overall number of subscribers to Paramount Plus is 63.4 million, and the total number of members to Warner Bros Discovery is 95 million.

Both Paramount and Warner Bros. refused to comment.

The studios, located in Hollywood, California, is one of the oldest and most renowned film studios in the world. Founded in 1912, it has been a major player in the entertainment industry, producing numerous iconic films and television shows.

Paramount has a long history of creating blockbuster movies and has been a significant contributor to the development of American cinema.

The studio continues to be a dominant force in the entertainment business, producing high-quality content that resonates with audiences worldwide.

SOURCE – (AP)

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