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Trailblazing Country Music Legend Charley Pride Dies at 86

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for CMA

Country music legend Charley Pride, who amassed more than 50 top-10 hits between 1967 and 1987, and won several Grammy Awards, has died. He was 86.

Posted: Dec 13, 2020 11:46 AM

Fox News - Country music legend Charley Pride, who amassed more than 50 top-10 hits between 1967 and 1987, and won several Grammy Awards, has died. He was 86.

The cause was complications from COVID-19, his publicist said in a statement.

Country music's first Black superstar's biggest songs included “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” and “Mountain of Love,” and 29 of his 52 top-10 hits rose to No. 1. He won multiple Country Music Awards. And in 1993, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, although he maintained that he’d had an open invitation there since his first performance in 1967.

“I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away,” fellow country legend Dolly Parton wrote on Twitter Saturday. “It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus.”

His final performance was almost exactly a month ago, on Nov. 11, when he sang during the CMAs and accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jimmie Allen, who presented the award, once told a radio DJ, “If there was no Charley Pride, there wouldn’t be Darius (Rucker), me, Kane (Brown), Mickey (Guyton), Cowboy Troy and any other Black country artist that’s on their way right now."

Pride was born to sharecroppers Mack Pride Sr. and Tessie Stewart Pride in Sledge, Miss., on March 18, 1934.

He was drafted into the Army in the 1950s and later worked as an iron smelter before getting his break in the 1960s with a recording of producer Jack Clement’s “Just Between You and Me.” It broke into country music’s Top 10.

He was a talented pitcher and hoped to have a career in baseball before finding success in the music industry. He made several attempts to break into Major League Baseball.

As the biggest Black country star of his era, he was a trailblazer in the industry.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” he wrote in his memoir.

He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Rozene Cohran, four siblings, three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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