Country Music Legend Charley Pride Passes Away at 86

Posted: Dec 12, 2020 6:15 PM
Country Music Legend Charley Pride Passes Away at 86

Source: Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Country music legend Charley Pride has reportedly died from complications from COVID-19. The pioneering black country music star was a legend in the country music industry with over two dozen number one hits. 

Born in Mississippi in the 1930s, Pride picked cotton before playing baseball in the then-segregated leagues. Pride served in the U.S. Army and worked in a Montana smelting plant before breaking out as Nashville's first black superstar, Rolling Stone reported. 

While accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Pride addressed his experience as a black singer in the country music industry. 

"My older sister one time said, 'Why are you singing THEIR music?'" Pride recalled. "But we all understand what the y’all-and-us-syndrome has been. See, I never as an individual accepted that, and I truly believe that’s why I am where I am today."

Pride told the Associated Press in 1985 why he believes entertainers should not become too political. "Music is a beautiful way of expressing oneself and I truly believe music should not be taken as a protest," Pride said. "You can go too far in anything — singing, acting, whatever — and become politicized to the point you cease to be an entertainer."

According to Rolling Stone, the singer "scored 52 Top 10 country hits, including 29 Number Ones, and was the first African-American performer to appear on the Grand Ole Opry stage since Deford Bailey made his debut in the 1920s. Pride became an Opry member in 1993. In 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame." 

The three-time Grammy winner gave his last performance at the Country Music Association Awards last month, where Pride was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. He performed his hit song "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with fellow country star Jimmie Allen. 

Pride passed away in Dallas on Saturday. He was 86 years old.