HomeEntertainmentMusicHappy Birthday Charley Pride: Remembering the Country Music Trailblazer

Happy Birthday Charley Pride: Remembering the Country Music Trailblazer

by Jim Casey
(Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

Let’s revisit three songs from Charley Pride’s legendary catalog on what would have been his 87th birthday today.

The country music-loving world lost an icon when Charley Pride, 86, died on Dec. 12, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19. While Charley is remembered as the first Black country music superstar, he also should be celebrated as one of the best country singers of all time, period.

Finding Top 10 Success

While baseball was his first love, an injury prematurely ended his professional career by 1960. Following the advice of friends Red Sovine and Red Foley, Charley returned to his other love: music. After his first two singles, “The Snakes Crawl at Night” and “Before I Met You,” failed to chart, Charley scored his first Top 10 hit in 1966 with “Just Between You and Me.”

Over the next three years, Charley found success with a bevy of Top 10 hits, including “I Know One,” “The Day the World Stood Still,” “Kaw-Liga,” and more. But it all started with “Just Between You and Me,” which was penned by Jack Clement. The song earned Charley his first Grammy nomination in 1966 for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance – Male.

Charley Reaches the Top

Charley released six studio albums from 1966 to 1969, including his first No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, 1967’s The Country Way.

By October 1969, he was ready to release his first compilation album, The Best of Charley Pride. The album peaked at No. 1 and featured Charley’s first No. 1 single, “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me).” Once again, the song earned Charley a nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance – Male in 1969.

Charley would score 28 additional No. 1 hits throughout his career.

Signature Song

By the 1970s, Charley was a bona fide country music superstar. He won the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971 and Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972. He also picked up two Grammy Awards in 1971 for Best Sacred Performance (“Did You Think to Pray”) and Best Gospel Performance (“Let Me Live”).

In October 1971, Charley released “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.” Charley’s signature hit reached No. 1 on the country chart and crossed over to become a Top 25 hit on the pop chart.

Remembering Charley

Charley won three Grammy Awards during his career. In addition, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 for outstanding contributions to the field of recording.

He became the Grand Ole Opry’s first African-American member in 1993. Charley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.