We mourn the loss of another country music legend in 2020 with the passing of Charley Pride at the age of 86. His publicist confirmed that he passed away in Dallas after a battle with COVID-19.
Charley was a trailblazer for black artists in country music. He scored an impressive 21 number 1 hits between 1969 and 1983 and charted 67 singles in his career. He accumulated numerous awards in music throughout the years including standout honors such as the 1994 ACM Pioneer award, 3 AMA awards, 4 Grammy awards and 4 CMA awards - which includes the highly coveted CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1971.
Prior to his career in music, Charley had aspirations to make it as a professional baseball player. In 1952 he made his Negro League Debut as a pitcher for the Memphis Red Sox. Between the Negro League and other minor leagues, Charley bounced around and was named an all-star 2 times in his career before he was drafted into the US Army in 1956. While in the Army he was stationed in Colorado and played ball for the Fort's baseball team which won the all Army championship in 1957.
After that stint in the Army, time working at a Missouri smelting plant, and some unsuccessful attempts to break into professional baseball, he came to Nashville in 1963 and made demonstration recordings with help from Jack Johnson. Those recordings languished for two years until Johnson met with producer Jack Clement, who offered songs for Pride to learn. On August 16, 1965, Clement produced Pride at RCA Studio B, and the results of that session impressed RCA’s Chet Atkins, who signed Pride to a recording contract. In 1967, Pride’s recording of Clement’s “Just Between You and Me” broke into country’s Top Ten.
In 1971, Pride released what would become his biggest hit, "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'", a million-selling crossover single that helped him land the Country Music Assiciation's prestigious Entertainer of the Year award. This would become his signature song.
Charley gave his final performance of this same hit just a short time ago on November 11th at the CMA awards alongside Jimmy Allen.
Tributes from the country music community have already begun pouring in on social media.
You can read the full press release regarding Charley Pride's passing HERE.
RIP to a pioneer.
Image via Getty Images