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COVID Kills Country's First Black Superstar

Charley Pride was 86
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 12, 2020 3:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Charley Pride, country music’s first Black star whose rich baritone on such hits as “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has died. He was 86, the AP reports. Pride died Saturday in Dallas of complications from COVID-19, according to a public relations rep. "I'm so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away," Dolly Parton tweeted. "It's even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19." Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s. Hits besides "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" in 1971 included "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," "Burgers and Fries," and "Mountain of Love."

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He had three Grammy Awards, more than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, won the Country Music Association's Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Until the early 1990s, when Cleve Francis came along, Pride was the only Black country singer signed to a major label. In 1993, he joined the Grand Ole Opry cast in Nashville. "They used to ask me how it feels to be the 'first colored country singer,'" he told the Dallas Morning News in 1992. "This country is so race-conscious, so ate-up with colors and pigments. I call it 'skin hangups'—it's a disease." In 2008 while accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award in Mississippi, Pride said he never focused on race.
(Read more country music stories.)

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