Country music pioneer Charley Pride dies at 86

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Country music legend Charley Pride, who amassed over 50 Top 10 hits between 1967 and 1987 and won multiple Grammy Awards, has died. He was 86 years old.

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

The first black country music 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 several Country Music Awards. And in 1993, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, although he maintained that there was an open invitation since his first performance in 1967.

CHARLEY PRIDE RECEIVES WILLIE NELSON AWARD FOR LIFETIME EXCELLENCE AT 2020 CMA AWARDS

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

His last performance was almost exactly a month ago, on November 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 would be no Darius (Rucker), me, Kane (Brown), Mickey (Guyton), Cowboy Troy and any other Black country artist that’s on the way right now. “

Charley Pride performs onstage at the 54th Annual CMA Awards at the Music City Center of Nashville on Wednesday November 11, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt / Getty Images for CMA)

Pride was scheduled to appear at the Volunteer Jam festival in Nashville, TN in February.

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

He was drafted into the military in the 1950s and then worked as an iron foundry before taking his hiatus in the 1960s with a recording of “Just Between You and Me” by producer Jack Clement. He entered the Top 10 for country music.

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

As the biggest black country star of his day, he was a pioneer in the industry.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve come a few steps down the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to this process,” he wrote in his memoir.

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

Julius Young of Fox News contributed to this report.


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