Charley Pride is one of the most well known country singers of all time. At the peak of his career in the early to mid-1970s, he even became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley. Quite the feat.
The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee has had countless hits over the years since his very first single, "The Snakes Crawl at Night," and though he is now in his 80s he continues to release music. Here are 9 things you might have not known about the country music legend.
1. His name wasn't supposed to be Charley
Originally born "Charl Frank Pride," there was an error on his birth certificate which made the singer's legal name Charley Frank Pride.
2. He had a huge family
He grew up one of 11 siblings to sharecropper parents in the delta town of Sledge, Mississippi. Parents Mack and Tessie B. Stewart Pride raised their children in a three-room house and taught them to be grateful for what they had.
3. His love of country music came from his father
Pride has said that when he was growing up his father would play the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts on the radio. He was drawn to the bluesy rhythms and country twang of artists like Hank Williams, eventually teaching himself to play the guitar by mimicking the artists he listened to regularly.
4. He was a baseball player
Though he had always loved music, Pride initially wanted to pursue a career with the major leagues. Starting out in the minors he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox in the Negro American League followed by the Boise Yankees, which was the Class C team for the New York Yankees. Though his career didn't come to fruition he always loved the sport, even becoming an owner of the Texas Rangers in 2010.
5. He pursued music after his baseball career hit a snag
After rejections from major league teams the Angels and the New York Mets, it was time to pursue his passion for music. Pride auditioned for producer Jack Clement in Memphis who was so impressed he connected him with Chet Atkins, then vice-president of RCA recording in Nashville. Atkins was also impressed and offered the singer a contract with RCA Records. The rest is history.
6. He's a family man
Pride has been married to his wife Rozene since 1956. They have three children, Kraig (Carlton), Dion and Angela. Pride and his wife currently reside in Dallas, Texas.
7. He's won numerous awards throughout his career
Pride has won 13 awards including four Grammy awards, one of which was a lifetime achievement award. His shelves are also stocked with industry awards, including the Country Music Association's (CMA) 1971 Entertainer of the Year trophy and Male Vocalist of the Year awards from 1971 and 1972.
8. He's still making music
Music in My Heart was released in 2017. It's proof that the country star isn't stopping his passion any time soon.
9. He's had over 30 number one hits
Songs including "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," "I'm Just Me," "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)," and "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" -- all hit number one on the country charts -- in addition to many more.
This story was originally published on March 18, 2019.
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