Country music star Charley Pride has died from complications related to Covid-19. He was 86.
Pride, credited for being the first modern Black superstar of country music, died on December 12 in Dallas, Texas. His publicist shared the news of his demise, reports variety.com.
The country singer was known for hits like “Kiss an angel good mornin'” and “Is anybody goin’ to San Antone”.
Born in Mississippi in 1934, Charley Pride worked in cotton fields, played professional baseball and served in the US army before moving to Nashville in 1963 to pursue a career in music. He went on to become country music’s first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He is also one of three Black artists to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.
Charley Pride had just been seen on live TV in November as he received a lifetime achievement award from the Country Music Association on its annual telecast. On November 11, he did his final performance at the telecast. He performed a duet of his classic “Kiss an angel good mornin'” with Jimmie Allen.
Before the CMA Awards telecast, all the performers were said to have undergone repeated Covid-19 tests prior.
With many wondering if there is a connection with Charley Pride contracting Covid-19 so soon after appearing on the show, CMA representatives have come out with a statement to address the doubts.
“Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times. All of us in the country music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further,” the CMA wrote in a statement posted to its website.
Charley Pride sold more than 25 million records during his career, which began in the mid-1960s.He had three Grammy Awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Dolly Parton was among the first to pay tribute to Pride on social media, 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. Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans.”
Billy Ray Cyrus wrote: “Charley Pride opened the door for so many including me. He took down walls and barriers meant to divide. He became a bridge of music for music lovers who found they had way more in common than they had different.
“And rules and stereotypes meant to separate were taken down and opened up to the free will of the artist and fan to become one in harmony and song. The last time I spoke to my good friend and legend Charley Pride. We met in ’92 playing shows together in Australia. His beloved sweetheart Rosie by his side. A gentleman… legend and true trail blazer. With much respect #RIP,” he added.
He is survived by his wife, Rozene; two sons; and a daughter.