The first Black Country Western superstar, Charley Pride, passed away. He died of COVID-19 complications in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 12, 2020.
Eighty-six-year-old Pride sang “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” with singer|songwiter Jimmie Allen for his final performance. They sang on live TV at the “Country Music Awards” (CMA) on November 11. Pride received the Willy Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
He earned numerous awards and additional accolades:
- Grammy Award: 10 nominations between 1967 and 1980.
- CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1971.
- CMA Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
- Grammy Award: Three victories — two in 1972 and one in 1973 — Best Gospel Performance (Other Than Soul Gospel) for “Let Me Live,” Best Country Vocal Performance, Male for “Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs,” and for “Amazing Love” in the same category.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in 1999; located at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard.
- Country Music Hall Of Fame: Winner of the Commemorative Medallion in 2000.
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Pride was born on March 18, 1938, in Sledge, Mississipi. He was one of 11 children whose father was a sharecropper. As a child, he picked cotton; when he was 14, he got his first guitar and taught himself listening to the “Grand Ole Opry.”
As a young man, he played baseball for the American Negro League for teams in Detroit, Memphis, and Birmingham. Pride’s baseball career was interrupted by the draft in 1956. Two years later, in Helena, Montana, he played ball, worked at a smelting plant, and began singing in public.
He was encouraged to move to Nashville, and in 1964 Pride signed a contract with Jack Johnson, his longtime manager. It was only a month when he signed with the label RCA.
The 3-time Grammy winner broke onto the charts within two years, his taut, wide-ranging baritone’s single “Just Between Me and You” pushed to No. 9 in the United States.
He dropped 41 studio albums, 2 live albums, 18 compilation albums, 11 music videos, and 74 singles during his career. Overall, 39 of his singles hit No. 1.
The superstar is survived by his wife, Rozene, and their three children —Dion, Kraig, and Angela.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Rolling Stone: Charley Pride, Pioneering Black Country Singer, Dead at 86; Joseph Hudak
Variety: Charley Pride, Country Music’s First Black Superstar, Dies of COVID-19 at 86; Chris Morris
IMDb: Charley Pride
NNDB: Charley Pride
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Nat Tung’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License