Charley Pride has died. According to a press release from his publicist, the country legend died on Saturday (Dec. 12) in Dallas, Texas, of complications from COVID-19. He was 86 years old.
Born in Sledge, Mississippi, on March 18, 1934, Pride grew up poor as the son of a sharecropper on a cotton farm and became country music’s first Black superstar, as well as the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
According to the biography at his official website, Pride’s father instilled his love of country music by listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. Pride got his first guitar at the age of 14 and taught himself to play, but his earliest success actually came playing baseball. Pride signed with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees, in 1953, and he played for a variety of teams off and on over the next decade, including a stint playing in the military, before abandoning his dream of playing in the major leagues.
Thank God Charley Pride chose country music. The CMA Awards, thank you for having Charley play…one more time.
RIP Charley Pride. You’re going to be missed. By a lot of us.