Darius Rucker shared a heartbreaking statement on Instagram Saturday following the death of Charley Pride. The country music icon died Saturday from complications of the coronavirus at age 86 in Dallas. Rucker and Pride are two of only three Black members of the Grand Ole Opry and performed together with Jimmie Allen on the single "Why Things Happen" earlier this year.
"My heart is so heavy," Rucker wrote on Saturday. "Charley Pride was an icon, a legend, and any other word you wanna use for his greatness. He destroyed barriers and did things that no one had ever done. But today I'm thinking of my friend. Heaven just got one of the finest people I know. I miss and love you, CP!"
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Rucker co-hosted last month's CMA Awards, where Pride received a lifetime achievement award. In an interview with Apple Music before the ceremony, Rucker said it was "surreal" to help honor Pride since he listened to Pride as a kid. "When I was a little kid in the early '70s and Charley's making these records, I remember having a Charley Pride record in my mom's collection that I don't think my mom ever put on, but she bought that record because he was a Black man singing country music," Rucker explained. He said no one deserved the honor like Pride, who became the first Black musician to join the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. "Just to be a part of that, I'm so honored and just I'm honored to call him a friend," Rucker said.
Since the CMA Awards were held indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, there was some speculation that Pride may have contracted the illness while he was in Nashville. However, the Country Music Association and Pride's representatives said Pride tested negative for the virus before, during, and after the ceremony. Pride's family also published a statement on his Facebook page, confirming Pride did not begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 until late November. "Despite the incredible efforts, skill, and care of his medical team over the past several weeks, he was unable to overcome the virus," his family said. "Charley felt blessed to have such wonderful fans all over the world. And he would want his fans to take this virus very seriously."
Pride scored over 50 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with songs like "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,'" "Just Between You and Me," "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)." He is survived by his wife Rozene and their children, Charlton, Charles, and Angela.