(CMR) Country legend Charlie Pride passed away earlier on Saturday from Covid-19 complications in Dallas, Texas. He was 86-years-old.
Pride, a son of sharecroppers who rose to become country music’s first Black superstar with hits including “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” died in hospice care.
Born in Sledge, Mississippi, on March 18, 1934, he was also the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He credited his father for introducing him to country music by listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio.
He often shared that he got his first guitar at the age of 14 and taught himself to play, but his earliest success actually came playing baseball. Pride signed with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees, in 1953, and he played for a variety of teams off and on over the next decade, including a stint playing in the military, before abandoning his dream of playing in the major leagues.
He eventually moved to Nashville and began to pursue a musical career where he landed a deal with RCA in 1966. Producer Chet Atkins helped launch Pride's career, and he scored his first Top 10 hit, “Just Between You and Me,” in 1966.
In 1971, just four years after his first hit records, he won the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year award — the genre’s highest honor.
Eventually, he had 52 top 10 country hits over several decades including His No. 1 hits included “Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone,” “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin',” “I'd Rather Love You,” “I'll Be Leaving Alone” and many more.
The legendary entertainer won an armload of ACM, CMA and Grammy Awards over the course of his career, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Last month in Nashville, Mr. Pride received the Country Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to him by Jimmie Allen, a young Black country star. It was his last public performance.
Organizers of the event said they were “following all protocols” for dealing with Covid-19, but some in attendance were not wearing masks.
He is survived by his wife, Ebby Rozene Cohran Pride, and his children, Carlton, Charles and Angela.