Charley Pride, Country Music Legend, Dead at 86 After Coronavirus Battle

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Charley Pride, legendary country music singer, has died. He was 86.

The "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" crooner died in Dallas of complications from COVID-19 on Saturday, his rep confirmed the news in a press release.

"He was admitted to the hospital in late November with Covid-19 type symptoms and despite the incredible efforts, skill and care of his medical team over the past several weeks, he was unable to overcome the virus," read a statement on his Facebook page. "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 emerged from Southern cotton fields to become country music’s first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Known for his chart-topping hits including “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and “Mountain of Love,” Pride won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971, its top male vocalist prize in 1971 and 1972 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

In 1967, Pride’s song "Just Between You and Me” broke into country’s Top 10. Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won three GRAMMY awards and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist.

Pride was one of only three African Americans to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

His last public performance was at the CMA Awards in Nashville on Nov. 11. He sang “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” with Jimmie Allen after accepting the CMA Lifetime Achievement Award.

ET spoke with Pride ahead of his CMA Awards performance, where he reflected on his career and legacy.

"Just thinking back, on how from the journey to here has been something," he told ET. "I just hope things just keep going like they were going before I got to this point."

"People, they'll come to me and say you, 'How do you feel breaking ground and paving the way for other Blacks coming to country music?' I say, it's fine with me, but I don't think of it in that sense of me paving the way. If you got talent, you're gonna make it, you know. So the thing here is that I didn't get into this business to pave the way or that kind of thing."

Upon hearing news of his death, Dolly Parton, among other country stars and celebrities, took to twitter to express their condolences.

"I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you," she tweeted. "Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans. - Dolly."

A source told ET, "Charley Pride had a new album in the works, and Charley’s team and his family are still hopeful it can be released. It’s likely Charley had recorded enough vocals to give the album release a go. A celebration of Charley’s life and a tribute concert are being talked about to happen later in 2021, when events can take place more safely post-COVID vaccine. Talks were actually underway months ago for a tribute concert and Charley’s team had discussed a potential lineup of artists with him." 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank, or the charity of your choice.


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