Country music’s Hall Of Fame singer, Charley Pride, died at the age of 86. He became the genre’s first Black artist with his song “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” and many other hits, died on Saturday in Dallas from Covid-19 complications, as reported by Jeremy Westby, a Pride’s publicist.
Dolly Parton gave her condolences to Pride’s family and friends and wrote a moving message on Twiter.
“I’m so disheartened that one of my oldest and dearest friends, Charley pride, has passed away. It’s even awful to know that he passed away from Coronavirus. What a terrible, terrible virus. Charley, I will always love you,” Dolly Parton wrote.
With a career spanning more than fifty years, Pride cemented a revolutionary legacy, unlike any artist before him. Starting his career in the 1960s, in the peak of the civil rights movement, Charley became the first Black man to conquer country music fame completely.
He conquered the audience reluctant to hear a Black man over Hank Williams and promoters equally doubtful at hosting his shows to be once the top-selling artist for RCA records since the great, Elvis Presley.
His seemingly endless honours include Male Vocalist of the Year wins in 1973 and 74, Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.
He had three Grammy Awards, and in 2017 the Recording Academy honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“To be doing that at an age when nobody needed him here, it’s insane to look back now… that must’ve been so tough,” Daris Rucker told the New York Times last month. “I can handle anything that comes my way because it can’t be close to what Charley went through.”
His extraordinary career was applauded by an audience at this years CMA Awards, where he was honoured with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.