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Charley Pride

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Title: Charley Pride  
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Subject: Grammy Award for Best Country Song, Honky Tonk Blues, Have I Got Some Blues for You, You Almost Slipped My Mind, List of train songs
Collection: 16Th Avenue Records Artists, 1938 Births, African-American Country Musicians, African-American Musicians, African-American Singers, American Country Guitarists, American Country Singers, American Country Singer-Songwriters, Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees, Grammy Award Winners, Grand Ole Opry Members, Living People, Memphis Red Sox Players, Minor League Baseball Players, Musicians from Dallas, Texas, Musicians from Mississippi, Negro League Baseball Players, People from Helena, Montana, People from Quitman County, Mississippi, People with Bipolar Disorder, Rca Records Nashville Artists, Singers from Mississippi, The Troubles (Northern Ireland)
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Charley Pride

Charley Pride
Pride performing at the Capital Centre on the 1981 Inauguration Day
Background information
Birth name Charley Frank Pride
Born (1938-03-18) March 18, 1938 [1]
Sledge, Mississippi, United States
Genres Country music, gospel
Occupation(s) Singer, musician, recording artist, performer, business owner
Instruments Voice, guitar
Years active 1966‒present
Labels RCA
16th Avenue
Music City
Website .comcharleypride

Charley Frank Pride (born March 18, 1938) is an American country music singer, musician/guitarist, recording artist, performer, and business owner. His greatest musical success came in the early- to mid-1970s when he became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley.[2] In total, he has garnered 39 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.

Pride is one of the few African-Americans to have had considerable success in the country music industry and one of only three African-Americans (along with DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker) to have been inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

In 2010, Pride became a special investor and minority owner of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club.[3]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Rise to music fame 2
  • Height of his career 3
  • "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" 4
  • 1970s and Northern Ireland 5
  • 1980s and beyond 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Film 8
  • Chronology 9
  • Discography 10
  • Awards 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14

Early life and career

Pride was born in Sledge, Mississippi, one of eleven children of poor sharecroppers. His father intended to name him Charl Frank Pride, but owing to a clerical error on his birth certificate, his legal name is Charley Frank Pride.[4]

In his early teens, Pride began playing guitar. Though he also loved music, one of Pride's lifelong dreams was to become a professional baseball player. In 1952, he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. He pitched well, and in 1953, he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees. During that season, an injury caused him to lose the "mustard" on his fastball, and he was sent to the Yankees' Class D team in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Later that season, while in the Negro leagues with the Louisville Clippers, he and another player (Jesse Mitchell) were traded to the Birmingham Black Barons for a team bus. "Jesse and I may have the distinction of being the only players in history to be traded for a used motor vehicle," Pride mused in his 1994 autobiography.[5]

He pitched for several other minor league teams, his hopes of making it to the big leagues still alive, but the Helena, Montana during this time.[6][7] When it became apparent that he was not destined for greatness on the baseball diamond, Pride pursued a music career.[5]

On June 5, 2008, Pride and his brother Mack "The Knife" Pride and 28 other living former Texas Rangers, with whom he has had a long affiliation, and the Colorado Rockies took his brother.[8][9]

Rise to music fame

While he was active in baseball, Pride had been encouraged to join the music business by country stars such as Red Sovine and Red Foley, and was working towards this career. In 1958, in Memphis, Tennessee, Pride visited Sun Studios and recorded some songs.[10] One song has survived on tape, and was released in the United Kingdom as part of a box set. The song is a slow stroll in walking tempo called "Walkin' (the Stroll)."[11]

Nashville manager and agent Jack D. Johnson signed Pride and landed him a contract with a record label, and he caught the ear of record producer Chet Atkins. Atkins was the longtime producer at RCA Victor who had made stars out of country singers such as Jim Reeves, Skeeter Davis and others. Pride was signed to RCA Victor in 1965. In January 1966, he released his first RCA Victor single, "The Snakes Crawl at Night", which did not chart. On the records of this song submitted to radio stations for airplay, the singer was listed as "Country Charley Pride". At this time, country music was a white medium. Jack made sure that there were no pictures of Pride distributed for the first two years of his career, in order to avoid the effects of Jim Crowism.

Soon after the release of "The Snakes Crawl at Night", Pride released another single called "Before I Met You", which also did not chart. Soon after, Pride's third single, "Just Between You and Me", was released. This song was the one that finally brought Pride success on the Country charts. The song reached No. 9 on US Country chart.

Height of his career

The success of "Just Between You and Me" was enormous. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for the song the next year.

In 1967, he became the first black performer to appear at the Grand Ole Opry since harmonica player DeFord Bailey, who was a regular cast member of the Opry from 1925 through 1941, and made a final appearance in 1974. Pride also appeared in 1967 on the American Broadcasting Company's "The Lawrence Welk Show".[12] In 1975, he was one of the stars of Bob Hope's Stars and Stripes Show emceed by John Davidson and filmed in front of a live audience in Oklahoma City to celebrate the United States Bicentennial.

Between 1969 and 1971, Pride had eight single records that simultaneously reached No. 1 on the US Country Hit Parade and also charted on the Billboard Hot 100: "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)", "(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again", "I Can't Believe That You've Stopped Loving Me", "I'd Rather Love You", "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone", "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore?", "I'm Just Me", and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'". The pop success of these songs reflected the country/pop crossover sound that was reaching Country music in the 1960s and early 1970s, known as "Countrypolitan". In 1969 his compilation album, The Best of Charley Pride sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[13]

Pride sang the Paul Newman directed film Sometimes a Great Notion's main soundtrack song "All His Children" in 1970.[14] The film starred Newman and Henry Fonda and received two Oscar nominations in 1972, one being for the song that Pride sang.[15]

"Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'"

In 1971, he would release what would become his biggest hit "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'", a million-selling crossover single that helped Pride land the Country Music Association's prestigious Entertainer of the Year award, as well as Top Male Vocalist.[16] He won CMA's Top Male Vocalist award again in 1972.[17]

"Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" became Pride's signature tune. Besides being a five-week country No. 1 in late 1971 and early 1972, the song was also his only pop Top 40 hit, hitting No. 21, and reaching the Top Ten of the Adult Contemporary charts as well.

1970s and Northern Ireland

During the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Pride continued to rack up country music hits. Other Pride standards of the 1970s and 1980s include "Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town," "Someone Loves You, Honey," "When I Stop Leavin' (I'll Be Gone)," "Burgers and Fries", "I Don't Think She's in Love Anymore", "Roll on Mississippi", "Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)" and "You're So Good When You're Bad." Like many other country performers, he has paid tribute to Hank Williams, with an album of songs that were all written by Hank entitled There's a Little Bit of Hank in Me, which included top-sellers of Williams' classics "Kaw-Liga," "Honky Tonk Blues" and "You Win Again". Pride has sold over 70 million records (singles, albums, compilation included).[18]

In 1975, Pride's agent sold a 40-date tour package to a United Kingdom booking agent, who onward sold four dates to Dublin-based Irish music promoter Jim Aitkien.[19] At the time, The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland were at their height, and most non-resident music and sport teams were not traveling to Northern Ireland through fear of becoming involved or injured. Aitken subsequently traveled to Pride's winter 75/6 concert in Ohio, and persuaded Pride to play one of the concert's at Belfast's Ritz Cinema. Pride played the concert in November 1976, with his album song "Crystal Chandeliers" subsequently being released as a single in the UK and Ireland. Pride subsequently became a hero to both sides of the conflict for breaking the effective touring concert ban, his song "Crystal Chandeliers" seen as a unity song, and he enabled Aitken to book further acts into Northern Ireland post his appearance.[20]

1980s and beyond

Pride remained with RCA Records until 1986. At that point, he grew angry over the fact that RCA began to promote newer country artists and didn't renew contracts with many older artists who had been with the label for years, such as Dolly Parton, John Denver and Sylvia. He moved on to 16th Avenue Records, where Pride bounced back with the No. 5 hit, "Shouldn't it be Easier Than This." He had a few minor hits with 16th Avenue, as well.

Pride's lifelong passion for baseball continues; he has an annual tradition of joining the Texas Rangers for workouts during Spring Training. A big Rangers fan (Dallas has been his home for many years), Pride is often seen at their games.[21]

In 2008, Pride received the Mississippi Arts Commission's lifetime achievement award during the organization's Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.[22][23]

He performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl VIII and again at Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, accompanied both years by the Del Rio High School JROTC Color Guard. He performed the National Anthem before Game 6 of the 1980 World Series as well.[24]

Personal life

Pride met his wife Rozene while he was playing baseball in the southern states. They married in 1956 and have two sons, Kraig and Dion, and a daughter, Angela. They currently reside in Dallas, Texas.[21] Kraig now goes by the name Carlton and has somewhat followed in his father's footsteps as a performing artist. His band, Carlton Pride and Zion started in San Marcos, Texas in 1995 and they perform a variety of reggae, funk, and soul music throughout the United States.

Dion Pride played lead guitar for his father, and entertained troops on USO tours in Panama, Honduras, Guantanamo Bay and the island of Antigua. Dion Pride co-wrote a song on Charley Pride's 2010 album "Choices" titled "I Miss My Home".

In 1994 Pride co-wrote (with Jim Henderson) his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story.[25] In this book he reveals that he has struggled for years with manic depression.

Pride had a tumor removed from his right vocal cord in 1997 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He returned to the site in February 2009 for a routine checkup and surprised the Arkansas Senate with an unplanned performance of five songs. He was joined by Governor Mike Beebe during the show.[26] Pride is an avid fan and part owner[27] of the Texas Rangers. He sang the national anthem before game 5 of the 2010 World Series, played between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants.[28] Pride sang the national anthem before game 2 of the 2011 ALCS between the Detroit Tigers & Texas Rangers.

On January 20, 2014 he sang the national anthem and performed at halftime for the Memphis Grizzlies who hosted their 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Day. He also, was interviewed during a break in the game that was televised nationally on NBA TV & SportSouth.


On April 29, 2011, it was announced that a biographical film was in the works based on Pride's life and career. The film will be produced by and star actor and professional wrestler, Dwayne Johnson.[29]


  • 1960s, Pride lived in Helena, MT and played legion baseball for the Helena Smelterites.
  • January 1966 – "The Snakes Crawl at Night" his first RCA Single is issued, receives airplay but does not chart.
  • June 1966 – Second RCA Single – "Before I Met You" also does not chart.
  • December 1966 – Makes his debut on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart with "Just Between You and Me." The song would peak in the top 10 less than three months later; two earlier singles had failed to chart.
  • August 9, 1969 – Scores his first Billboard No. 1 hit with "All I Have to Offer You Is Me."
  • September 6, 1969 – Pride appears on national television on The Johnny Cash Show to perform a medley of Hank Williams songs with Cash. Pride's medley with Cash can be seen here.[30]
  • 1971 – Enjoys the biggest hit of his career with the million-seller "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'." The song was his eighth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and spent five weeks atop the chart.
  • September 17, 1983 – Scores his 29th and final No. 1 hit on Billboard with "Night Games." He still remains sixth on the all-time list of most No. 1 hits on the Billboard country charts. "Night Games" would be the last song performed by a black artist to hit the top of the Billboard country charts until Darius Rucker's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" reached No. 1 in 2008.
  • May 1, 1993 – Pride accepted an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry, in the process becoming the first black Opry regular in the show's more than 70-year history.
  • 1994 – Pride released his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story (published by William Morrow).
  • June 1994 – Pride was honored by the Academy of Country Music with its prestigious Pioneer Award.
  • January 1996 – Pride was honored with a Trumpet Award by Turner Broadcasting, marking outstanding African-American Achievement. His 1981 hit, "Roll on Mississippi", is considered the official song of his home state, a stretch of Mississippi highway was named for him and he headlined a special Christmas performance for President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House.
  • July 1999 – Pride received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • March 25, 2003 – Received the Texas Cultural Trust's Texas Medal of Arts.[31]
  • March 27, 2003 – Ranked No. 18 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men in Country Music.
  • May 20, 2003 – Pride's album, Comfort of Her Wings, was released on Music City Records.
  • November 7, 2006 – Pride's album, Pride & Joy: A Gospel Music Collection, was released on Music City Records.
  • January 10, 2008 – Received a lifetime achievement award from the Mississippi Arts Commission.



Academy of Country Music Awards

  • 1994 Pioneer Award

American Music Awards

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Country Music Association

Grammy Awards

See also


  • Country Music: The Rough Guide; Wolff, Kurt; Penguin Publishing
  1. ^ "Notable writers and musicians from the American southern state of Mississippi.". Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ Vinopal, David. "Biography: Charley Pride". Allmusic. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ Durrett, Richard (January 2, 2010). "A peek at owners, board of directors – Dallas Texas Rangers Blog – ESPN Dallas". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Charley Pride". Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  5. ^ a b c [6]
  6. ^ a b "Charley Pride in Helena". Helena As She Was: A Cooperative History Resource. Helena History. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  7. ^ "Charley Pride". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ Shroyer, Shawn (May 30, 2008). "Rangers to make Pride part of family".  
  9. ^ Justice B. Hill / "Special Negro Leagues Draft | News". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  10. ^ [7]
  11. ^ [8] Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ [9]
  13. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 265.  
  14. ^ "Sometimes a Great Notion (1970)". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  15. ^ "Never Give an Inch (1970) : Awards". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  16. ^ "1971 CMA Awards". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  17. ^ "1972 CMA Awards". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  18. ^ "Charley Pride website". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  19. ^ "Country singer Charley Pride returns to the UK". BBC News. 
  20. ^ "Back Then: How Chandelier Charley Pride lit up whole city of Belfast". 
  21. ^ a b Charley Pride website
  22. ^ "Charley Pride to Receive Mississippi Honor". January 3, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  23. ^ [10]
  24. ^ Video on YouTube
  25. ^ First published by William Morrow in 1994, ISBN 0-688-14232-X
  26. ^ Demillo, Andrew. Charley Pride leads Arkansas lawmakers in song, USA Today, 2009-02-12.
  27. ^ "Bloom: Baseball, Rangers are big winners | News". June 18, 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  28. ^ "Charley Pride and Mollie Corbett to Perform During Game Five of the 2010 World Series on FOX| Official Info". October 31, 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  29. ^ "Dwayne Johnson to Star in Charley Pride Biopic". April 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  30. ^ Video on YouTube
  31. ^ "Talented Texans to be Honored". The Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. February 7, 2003. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Record Label
  • at the Grand Ole Opry
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