Country Legend Charley Pride, First Black Member Of The Country Music Hall Of Fame, Has Died At 86

Country lost a legend today with the death of Charley Pride at the age of 86, as reported by Variety who confirmed his passing with the public relations firm 2911 Media. Although country music is obviously indebted to Black musicians, the genre has historically been whitewashed — so much so that Charley Pride was the first Black member of the genre’s legendary institution, the Country Music Hall of Fame. Pride was only inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2000, despite racking up incredible accolades and a string of No. 1 hits in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

Growing up in Mississippi, after severals stint with minor league baseball teams, Pride left that circuit and began cutting records at Memphis’ legendary Sun Studio. Eventually inking a deal with RCA Records, Pride managed to shrug off the R&B distinction generally thrust on Black musicians at that time and began making countrypolitan style hits. He notched almost thirty No. 1 country chart hits and over twenty top-10 country entries, and has been ranked as the No. 3 hit-producing artist of the ’70s, behind Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard.

This past November, Pride performed one of his most famous songs, “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” at the CMAs, dueting with rising star and fellow Black country musician, Jimmie Allen. Since that appearance, which would sadly be his last, Pride contracted COVID-19 and died from complications related to the virus. He is survived by his wife Rozene, two sons and a daughter.

Dolly Parton is just one of many fellow musicians who are mourning the loss:

Rest in peace to a trailblazer.