Charley Pride Dead at 86 From COVID-19 Complications
Charley Pride has died. According to a press release from his publicist, the country legend died on Saturday (Dec. 12) in Dallas, Texas, of complications from COVID-19.
Pride was 86 years old when he died. Per a statement from his family, he had first been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms in late November.
Born in Sledge, Miss., on March 18, 1934, to Tessie Stewart Pride and Mack Pride Sr., Pride grew up poor as the son of a sharecropper on a cotton farm and became country music’s first Black superstar, as well as the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
According to the biography at his official website, Pride's father instilled his love of country music by listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. Pride got his first guitar at the age of 14 and taught himself to play, but his earliest success actually came playing baseball. Pride signed with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees, in 1953, and he played for a variety of teams off and on over the next decade, including a stint playing in the military, before abandoning his dream of playing in the major leagues.
Pride moved to Nashville and began to pursue a musical career in earnest, landing a deal with RCA in 1966. Producer Chet Atkins helped launch Pride's career, and he scored his first Top 10 hit, "Just Between You and Me," in 1966.
Pride would follow up with a long string of 52 Top 10 country hits over the course of the next several decades. His No. 1 hits included "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'," "I'd Rather Love You," "I'll Be Leaving Alone" and many more.
The legendary entertainer won an armload of ACM, CMA and Grammy Awards over the course of his career, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
He gave his final performance on Nov. 11, 2020, singing “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” during the CMA Awards at Nashville’s Music City Center alongside Jimmie Allen. Pride also won the CMA's Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Pride leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Ebby Rozene Cohran Pride, and children Carlton Kraig, Charles Dione and Angela Rozene. He was the grandfather of Carlton Kraig Jr., Malachi, Syler, Ebby and Arrentino, and the great-grandfather of Skyler and Carlton Kraig III. The singer also leaves behind his siblings Harmon (and wife Barbara), Stephen (and wife Pamela), Catherine and Maxine, as well as a number of nieces and nephews.
Funeral plans for Prine have not been announced. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking that donations be made to the Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philip's School and Community Center, food banks or another charity of the donor's choice.