14 December 2020

Charley Pride, 1934-2020 (update)

Des Butler sends further sad news:

The death has occurred of Charley Pride in Dallas, TX, on Saturday 12 December 2020, of complications related to Covid 19. He was 86 years old.

Charley Frank Pride was born on 18 March 1934, in racially segregated Sledge, Mississippi, the fourth of eleven children of poor sharecroppers.

He became the first black performer to appear at the Grand Ole Opry since founder member DeFord Bailey who had last appeared in 1941. Between 1969 and 1971, Charley Pride had eight singles that reached number one in the US Country Hit Parade. On 1 May 1993, Charley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1969, his compilation album The best of Charley Pride sold more than one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. He was second only to Elvis Presley in overall record sales for RCA Victor. He did much to break down racial segregation in the music business in a much segregated US at the time. His race soon became a minor detail compared to his success.

In 2020, the CMA announced that Charley Pride would receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Country Music Awards in recognition of his work in the genre. His performance at the award ceremony was to be his last; he has died a month after receiving it.

Charley Pride 1934-2020 R.I.P.

BIB editor's note: The Wikipedia biographical article shows that Charley Pride's willingness to play at Belfast in 1976 for agent Jim Aiken was important in bringing touring acts back to Ireland despite the Troubles. Roni Stoneman describes (in her 2007 autobiography Pressing on) her part in the launch of Charley Pride's career.

Update 15 Dec.: Hilary Saunders' obituary for No Depression overlooks DeFord Bailey completely but includes two video recordings and a PS stating that a TV special, 'CMT remembers Charley Pride' will be shown this Wednesday (16 Dec.) at 8.00 p.m. ET, Thursday 17 Dec. at 9.00 a.m., and Saturday 19 Dec. at 12 noon ET.

Update 2 Jan.: On Christmas day, Sonny Osborne's memories of Charley were published on Bluegrass Today in the 'Ask Sonny anything' series.

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