Charley Pride, Country Music Icon, Dead at 86

by Matthew Wilson
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Country music legend Charley Pride has died. The 86-year-old musician passed away on Saturday (Dec. 12) from complications related to COVID-19.

In the 1960s, Pride took the country music world by storm, becoming the genre’s first African American star. So far, 2020 has been costly for the country music genre. Several other country icons including Joe Diffie and John Prine have also passed away from the COVID-19 virus.

Charley Pride Became a Country Music Legend

Born into poverty with dreams of being a country music star, it wasn’t long before he made his splash in the industry. As a teen, he bought his first guitar with money he made from picking cotton. Throughout his early adult life, he served in the Army and played professional baseball in the segregated Negro American League.

But he returned to his passion for music, moving to Nashville to pursue his dream. Finally, in 1966, Pride landed at a record label under the title Country Charley Pride. At the time, the record label withheld his picture from radio stations to hide the fact he was a black man.

Over the course of his career, Pride had 29 No. 1 hits and 67 singles across his career. He also won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1971, cementing his legacy within the genre. He also won three Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award across his decades-long career. “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” and “Just Between You and Me” are among his many classics.

Pride most recently appeared at the 2020 CMA Awards where he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry.

Charley Pride was also a member of the Grand Ol Opry, which he used to listen to as a child. He made his Opry debut in 1967. But he didn’t officially join the organization until 1993, despite several invitations to. Pride leaves a lasting mark on country music. His classic tunes will continue to be enjoyed for years to come. And he’s an inspiration for the generations of musicians aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

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