Charley Pride, one of America’s first and arguably the most successful black country singer has died at 86. A statement issued to the singer’s official website confirmed that Pride passed away in Dallas, Texas, after suffering from complications due to COVID-19.
Pride, born out of the dark and conflicted past in the US south yet managed to succeed where so many others had failed. Even from a young age, Pride sought, with all his resiliency to escape his economic situation, and in essence, the haunted history of the civil war.
He was first a promising baseball star, but soon his sheer knack for singing garnered a lot of attention. Truly embodying that “salt of the earth” human characteristic that today’s country music seems to lack, Pride was not only one of three black country singers to join the Grand Opry, but he also to sold more records for RCA than anyone else on the label, only being second to the king himself, Elvis Presley. Charlie Pride scored his first number one hit with Just Between You and Me, in 1969.
Charley Pride, who performed his final show just a matter of weeks ago, was cemented his legacy in the annals of music history when he became the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Tributes have been pouring in for the musician with Dolly Parton leading the way: “I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away,” she wrote in a post on social media. “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.”
Billie Ray Cyrus added: “The last time I spoke to my good friend and legend Charley Pride. We met in ‘92 playing shows together in Australia. His beloved sweetheart Rosie by his side. A gentleman… legend and true trail blazer. With much respect.”