Country pioneer Charley Pride has died today aged 86 from complications related to Covid-19.
The gifted entertainer, who was famous for tracks including Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’, Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone, and Mountain of Love, died on Saturday, with the news being confirmed on his official website.
Pride, who became the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, was born to a Mississippi sharecropper on March 18, 1934.
Pride initially thought baseball would provide his path out of poverty, before discovering his talents in music.
Some of the many highlights from his career include winning the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971, its top male vocalist prize in 1971 and 1972, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Pride’s final performance came just a month before his death on November 11, 2020, when he sang Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ during the CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Music City Center with Jimmie Allen.
The country music community shared their sorrow at Pride’s death, with Dolly Parton tweeting: ‘I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away.
‘It’s even worse to know that he passed away from Covid-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.
‘Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans.’
Kelleigh Bannen wrote: ‘I never met Charley Pride, but admired him from afar. His acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement #CMA award was such a stunning display of humility and humanity from a man who was truly a giant. RIP Mr Pride.’
As a young music hopeful, Pride had gone to Nashville in hopes of starting a music career following a stint in the army and an unsuccessful attempt to play professional baseball.
He made several demos with help from manager Jack Johnson in 1963, but it wasn’t until 1965 when he joined up with producer Jack Clement that Pride’s career began to take off.
Between 1967 and 1987 Pride delivered 52 top-10 country hits, won several Grammys and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist, battling prejudice and discrimination with his music.
He wrote in his memoir in the early 90s: ‘We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process.’
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