A Rockapaedia Obituary
Charlie Pride died aged eighty-six on 12th December, 2020 in Dallas, Texas, United States of America. It was reperted that his death was due to medical complications which were related to COVID-19. Charlie was survived by his wife Rozene, their two sons, Kraig and Dion, their daughter, Angela and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Charlie was born on 18th March, 1934, in Sledge, Mississippi, the fourth of eleven children of poor sharecroppers. Eight boys and three girls were in the family.
Charlie Pride performed his music solo at clubs and with a four-piece combo called the Night Hawks during a time he lived in Montana but his break came when Chet Atkins at RCA Victor heard a demonstration tape and got Charlie Pride a contract. In 1966, Charlie released his first RCA Victor single, "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and Nashville manager and agent Jack D. Johnson signed him to a contract. Chet Atkins was the longtime producer at RCA Victor who had made stars out of other country singers including Jim Reeves and Skeeter Davis.
Soon after the release of "The Snakes Crawl at Night", Charlie Pride released another single called "Before I Met You", which failed chart. Not long afterwards, his third single, "Just Between You and Me", was released. This song finally brought Charlie Pride success on the country charts. The song reached number nine on Hot Country Songs in 1967.
The success of "Just Between You and Me" was enormous. Charlie Pride was nominated for a Grammy Award for the song the next year. In the late summer of 1966, on the strength of his early releases, he was booked for his first large show, in Detroit's Olympia Stadium. Since no biographical information had been included with those singles, few of the 10,000 country fans who came to the show knew Charlie Pride was black, and discovered the fact only when he walked onto the stage, at which point the applause trickled off to silence. "I knew I'd have to get it over with sooner or later," Charlie Pride later remembered. "I told the audience: 'Friends, I realize it's a little unique, me coming out here — with a permanent suntan — to sing country and western to you. But that's the way it is".
The show became the first of a long and active career playing to large audiences and his race soon became a minor detail compared to his success. In 1967, he became the first black performer to appear at the Grand Ole Opry since founding member DeFord Bailey, who had last appeared in 1941. Between 1969 and 1971, Charlie Pride had eight singles that reached number one on the US Country Hit Parade and also charted on the Billboard Hot 100: "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)", "(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again", "I Can't Believe That You've Stopped Loving Me", "I'd Rather Love You", "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone", "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore", "I'm Just Me", and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'". The pop success of these songs reflected the country/pop crossover sound that was reaching country music in the 1960s and early 1970s, known as "Countrypolitan". In 1969, his compilation album, The Best of Charley Charlie Pride, sold more than one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Ultimately, Elvis Presley was the only artist who sold more records than Charlie Pride for RCA Victor.
In 1971, Charlie Pride released what would become his biggest hit, "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'", a million-selling crossover single. That same year, he won the Country Music Association's entertainer of the year award, as well as its top male vocalist award in 1971 and 1972."Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" became Charlie Pride's signature tune and besides being a five-week country number one in late 1971 and early 1972, the song was also his only pop top 40 hit.
During the remainder of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Charlie Pride continued to rack up country music hits. Other Charlie Pride standards from this period include; "Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town", "Someone Loves You, Honey", "When I Stop Leavin' (I'll Be Gone)", "Burgers and Fries", "I Don't Think She's in Love Anymore", "Roll On Mississippi", "Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)", and "You're So Good When You're Bad". Like many other country performers, Charlie Pride paid tribute to Hank Williams, with an album of songs that were all written by Hank titled There's a Little Bit of Hank in Me, which included top-sellers of Williams' classics "Kaw-Liga", "Honky Tonk Blues", and "You Win Again".
In 1975, Charlie Pride's agent sold a 40-date tour package to a United Kingdom booking agent, who onward sold four dates to the Dublin-based Irish music promoter Jim Aiken. At the time, the "Troubles" were at their height, and few non-resident music personalities travelled there. Aiken subsequently travelled to Charlie Pride's winter 1975/'76 concert in Ohio, and persuaded Charlie Pride to play one of the concerts at Belfast's Ritz Cinema. Charlie Pride played the concert in November 1976, with his album song "Crystal Chandeliers" subsequently being released as a single in the UK and Ireland. Charlie Pride subsequently became a hero to both sides of the conflict for breaking the effective touring concert ban, his song "Crystal Chandeliers" was seen as a unity song, and the success of Charlie Pride's visit enabled Aiken to book further acts into Northern Ireland after his appearance.
Charlie Pride performed the national anthem before game six of the 1980 World Series. He also performed the national anthem at Super Bowl VIII and again at game five of the 2010 World Series, accompanied both years by the Del Rio High School JROTC Color Guard.
On 1st May 1993, Charlie Pride became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and he celebrated his 25th anniversary of becoming a member with performances at the Opry on 3th and 5th May, 2018.
In 1994, Charley Charlie Pride published his book 'Charlie Pride: The Charley Charlie Pride Story'. Charlie Pride spoke with John Siegenthaler on Nashville Public Television about the book and his childhood in Mississippi, the impacts of racism throughout his career, and his battle with depression.