Trailblazing African-American country musician Charley Pride has passed away in Dallas, Texas at age 86.
Pride’s publicist confirmed that Pride’s death on December 12 had been attributed to coronavirus complications.
Pride gave his final public performance at the Country Music Association Awards on November 11. Following claims that Pride may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the indoor event, the CMA Awards issued a statement.
“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the statement read.
“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.”
Born in 1934, Pride was the first African-American inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
He enjoyed considerable chart success during his heyday, scoring 52 Top Ten hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. ‘Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’’, ‘Why Baby Why’ and ‘Night Games’ were among Pride’s 29 songs to reach Number One on that chart.
Pride also earned four Grammy Awards throughout his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Pride was notable for performing in Belfast at the height of The Troubles, when many international artists chose to bypass the city on their tours.
In his home country, he was a distinguished advocate for African-American rights.
“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” Pride wrote in his memoir, 2017’s Pride: The Charley Pride Story.
Pride was also a talented baseball player in his youth, earning professional contracts during the 1950s.
Billy Ray Cyrus, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire are among the musicians to have paid tribute to Pride following his passing.
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 pic.twitter.com/dewMqcC6Rk
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) December 12, 2020
Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans. – Dolly (2/2)
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 12, 2020
Charley Pride will always be a legend in Country music. He will truly be missed but will always be remembered for his great music, wonderful personality and his big heart. My thoughts are with his wife Rozene and their family. RIP, Charley. pic.twitter.com/2IYFfx4kLo
— Reba (@reba) December 12, 2020
In lieu of flowers, Pride’s family request that those wishing to honour the singer’s memory donate to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Centre.