Charley Pride, Country Music Legend, Dead at 86 From COVID-19 Complications

Charley Pride, the first Black superstar of country music, died Saturday at age 86. The 'Kiss an [...]

Charley Pride, the first Black superstar of country music, died Saturday at age 86. The "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" singer died in Dallas, Texas from complications of COVID-19, his publicist, Jeremy Westby, said in a statement. His death came just weeks after he was honored by the Country Music Association with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award during the CMA Awards on Nov. 11.

Pride was one of only three Black members of the Grand Ole Opry, alongside DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker. He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Pride's career started in the late 1960s, following a brief career in the Negro Leagues and his service in the Army. Some of his hits include "Honky Tonk Blues," "You Win Again," "Amazing Love," "Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town," "She's Just An Old Love Turned Memory," and many more.

During the CMA Awards, Pride performed "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,'" with his friends Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee in the crowd. "I wouldn't say I was nervous, but I enjoyed it. It's not like on stage I'm just as comfortable as I can be, but I enjoyed it," Pride told PopCulture and other media outlets in November. "But mostly too, I enjoyed being around some singers I've been around and some of my peers for so long... It was wonderful."

Pride was born on March 18, 1934, in Sledge, Mississippi as the son of sharecroppers. Although Pride developed a love for music at an early age, he also loved baseball. During the early 1950s, he played with the Memphis Red Sox and Birmingham Black Barons, making the Negro League All-Star Game twice. His baseball career was cut short after he was drafted into the Army. Pride tried to make a baseball comeback after serving, but his singing began to attract attention.

His music career began in 1965, when he released his first RCA single, "The Snakes Crawl at Night." His third single, "Just Between You and Me," made him an instant star and even earned him a Grammy nomination. He recorded eight Billboard Hot 100 singles between 1969 and 1971. "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" was released in 1971 and quickly became his signature song. Although Pride's chart success slowed in the 1980s, he never stopped recording. He released his last album, Music in My Heart, in 2017.

Pride earned several major awards throughout his life, including the 1994 Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music. He won the CMA's Entertainer of the Year award in 1971 and Male Vocalist of the Year in 1971 and 1972. He won four Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. His family asked fans to make donations in his memory to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank, or a charity of your choice.

"I get asked a lot of times what award I like the best," Pride said in November. "I mean, I've got so many, it's like asking me what song do I like the best when I'm singing. And this is the truth. What song do I love the most is the one I'm singing at the moment? So that's it. I'm going to put this with all the other awards and everything and be happy about having them. And I hope I can get some more, if that's possible, but I didn't come into this business to try to win awards, but I'll sure take them."