It's hard to imagine Toby Keith ever being an opening act, but, back in the day, he started on his career path just like every enthusiastic young artist, serving his time as a wide-eyed, audience-chasing opener for a major headlining act. Toby toured with Brooks & Dunn early on in his career and also on the duo's Neon Circus & Wild West Show in 2001. But he wasn't the only soon-to-be-superstar to share that same concert stage.

"It was four acts on the bill if you really want to hear some openers," Toby tells The Boot. "Keith Urban opened, Montgomery Gentry was second, I was third, and Brooks & Dunn were [the headliners]. Kix and Ronnie asked me to open for them when I first came out in '93-'94 ... I did some shows with them. I was the very opening act on that tour, but they always treated me really cool, and we remain friends today.

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Brooks & Dunn are winding down their Last Rodeo tour, and their 20-year career together with the final date on the trek scheduled for September 2 in Nashville.

"I'm good with it," says Toby of the impending split, a hint of nostalgia in his voice. "I heard it said best a few weeks ago. I was reading an article on Elton John and Leon Russell doing a duet, and Elton says, 'I'm doing some of the things I want to do. Nobody is chomping at the bit to hear a brand-new Elton record.' At some point, your career gets to the point where you're not stretching out and airing it out, you want to go do some things you want to do. And you never know if they're seeing eye-to-eye musically or not anymore or whether one of them wants to continue and the other doesn't. Until you find all that out you won't know, but power to them. Ronnie is a great vocalist, and he can do anything he wants to do. Kix is into everything: wine making, radio shows, and quarter horses. They're all busy, and they've had a helluva career."

Toby's latest album, 'Bullets in the Gun,' hits stores October 5. He's currently on his American Ride tour, click here for upcoming dates.