Country Music Icon Charley Pride Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Joseph Llanes

News broke today (Sat., Dec. 12) that country music legend Charley Pride passed away from COVID-19 complications. The Dallas resident was 86 years old.

The son of sharecroppers, Charley Frank Pride was born on March 18, 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi. His 10 siblings from back home include fellow Negro League baseball player Mack Pride Jr. (both brothers played for the Memphis Red Sox) and Texas singer-songwriter Stephen Pride.

After years of trying to see out his Major League Baseball dreams, Pride turned his attention to country music. His groundbreaking run with RCA Records began with the 1966 single "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and proved itself permanent when "All I Have to Offer You (is Me)" topped the country charts in 1969. By the end of the '70s, Pride was a three-time Grammy award winner and his label's best-selling performer since Elvis Presley.

Between his chart debut in 1966 and 1989, Pride had 29 No. 1 hits and over 50 Top 10 tracks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" (1970) and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" (1971).

Industry honors for Pride include CMA (Country Music Association) Entertainer of the Year (1971) and Male Vocalist of the Year (1971, 1972) awards. He also earned spots in the Country Music Hall of Fame and on the Grand Ole Opry cast.

Pride made history in 1975 as the first Black man to co-host the CMA Awards when he shared master of ceremonies duties with Glen Campbell. He remained the only African American to fill that role until Darius Rucker co-hosted this year's broadcast with Reba McEntire.

Pride's last major appearance in Nashville came during the CMA Awards' Nov. 11 broadcast, during which he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

After singing "Best Shot," presenter Jimmie Allen made a short speech in which he credited Pride for "taking his best shot and making the best kind of history in our genre."

Pride performed "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with Allen as his duet partner right after a video aired that chronicled several of Pride's achievements.

An acceptance speech followed, during which Pride thanked his fans and key figures in his career, including Cowboy Jack Clement.

The final high-profile recording of Prine's career, a duet with Garth Brooks titled "Where the Cross Don't Burn," appears on Brooks' album Fun.

Read More: Charley Pride + His Wife Rozene: A 60-Plus Year Love Story

Pride is survived by his wife of 60-plus years, Rozene, and three children: fellow country singer Dion, reggae band leader Kraig (known professionally as Carlton) and a daughter, Angela.

Now Watch: Remembering Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist John Prine's Best Songs

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Country Music Icon Charley Pride Dies From COVID-19 Complications