DreamWorks Plies Toby Keith With Platinum

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Toby Keith can roof his new house with the platinum records DreamWorks Records lavished on him Thursday (Feb. 20) during a celebration held at Nashville’s Stock-Yard Restaurant. “You’re here for a bunch of reasons,” DreamWorks chief James Stroud told the artist, “but most of all for keeping our doors open.” In a generally down economy for country record labels, Keith has been one of the past and current year’s brightest spots.

Although it was a white tablecloth affair, the mood was anything but formal. Stroud and two other top label executives — Scott Borchetta and Johnny Rose — wore doo-rags (but not at all convincingly) while making their presentations. They gave Keith a double-platinum plaque for each of his two latest albums, Pull My Chain and Unleashed, and a barn-door size plaque with six platinum disks for the approximately 6 million albums he’s sold since coming to DreamWorks. (The third double-platinum album was How Do You Like Me Now?!) Identical plaques were also presented to Stroud, the label and Keith’s management company, TKO Artist Management.

Rock singer Huey Lewis came in before the ceremonies started to congratulate Keith but was stopped momentarily at the reception desk because his name wasn’t on the guest list. Keith first met Lewis in Las Vegas, and the two have since become friends. Scott Emerick, Keith’s guitarist, co-writer and, more recently, labelmate, also turned out for the festivities.

Stroud applauded Keith for his hard work and rising appeal, noting that he had recently played to a crowd of 22,000 in Seattle. Keith, who is far more low-key and self-effacing when he’s off stage, said simply, “These parties aren’t as much to shower me as to thank all of you who work behind the scenes.”

After the plaques were passed out, Borchetta gave Keith a set of floor mats, a joking reference to his commercials for Ford trucks. Then he showed Keith a picture of his real gift from the label, a Royal Knight pool table for the recreation room of the new home he’s building in Oklahoma. Keith responded by unveiling a new Harley Davidson motorcycle as his gift to Stroud. A cycle enthusiast, Stroud made a beeline for his new toy. “We’re gonna ride this in Key West,” he told Keith. “That’s what we’re gonna do.” Keith will record his next album in Key West.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.