charley pride, pioneering black country music legend, dies of covid-19 at 86

Charley Pride, the pioneering African-American country music legend and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died at 86.

According to his publicist, Pride died in Dallas due to complications from COVID-19.

Just last month, on Nov. 11, Pride performed at the 2020 Country Music Awards in Nashville. At the event, he performed his 1971 hit Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'. It would be his last.

Pride was born in 1934, in Sledge, Mississippi, to parents who struggled to make ends meet as poor sharecroppers.

He fell in love with music early, challenging the notion that country music was a white man's genre.

charley pride, pioneering black country music legend, dies of covid-19 at 86

Pride was also a talented baseball player and played for Negro Leagues for the Memphis Red Sox as a pitcher before joining the army.

After leaving the army, he landed in Helena, Montana, where he continued to play baseball and took a job in a smelting plant.

He started singing in public, where he caught the attention of a local DJ who signed him to sing for country stars Red Sovine and Red Foley. The pair later convinced him to move to Nashville.

In 1964, Pride signed a management deal with longtime manager Jack D. Johnson.

The following year, he had his first Nashville recording session. A month later, he signed with the label RCA, and his country music career kicked off.

charley pride, pioneering black country music legend, dies of covid-19 at 86

Since then, Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records worldwide.

Besides Kiss an Angel Good Morning, his popular hits include Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone, Burgers and Fries, Mountain of Love, and Someone Loves You Honey.

Pride won three Grammy Awards and more than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984. He also won the Country Music Association's Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He received a lifetime achievement award in 2017.

Furthermore, he received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award last month from the Country Music Association.

charley pride, pioneering black country music legend, dies of covid-19 at 86

Pride remains one of only three African-American artists, along with DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker, to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Several country music superstars remembered Pride as a 'legend' following his death. Dolly Parton, who sang with Pride on a duet God's Coloring Book, paid tribute to a 'close friend' writing:

"I'm so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away."

"It's even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you."

Reba McEntire wrote on Twitter:

"Charley Pride will always be a legend in Country music."

"[We] will truly miss and remember him for his great music, wonderful personality, and his big heart."

Pride is survived by his siblings, his wife of over 60 years, Rozene Cohran, and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Pride's family.

Rest in peace, Legend.