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Charley Pride

Pride performing at the Capital Centre on the 1981 Inauguration Day
Background information
Birth name Charley Frank Pride
Born March 18, 1938 (1938-03-18) (age 71)
Origin Sledge, Mississippi, USA
Genres Country Music
Occupations Singer
Former Professional Baseball Player
business and radio station owner
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1966-Present
Labels RCA
16th Avenue
Music City

Charley Frank Pride (born March 18, 1938) is an American country music singer and baseball player.

Pride's smooth baritone voice was featured on thirty-six number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. His greatest success came in the early-to-mid 1970s, when he was the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley.[1] His chart success and recordings since the late 1980s have been sporadic, but Pride continued touring successfully.

Pride is one of the few African-American country musicians to have had considerable success in the country music industry and the only one to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.


Early life and career

Pride was born in Sledge, Mississippi, one of eleven children of poor sharecroppers. His father named him "Charl Frank Pride," but because of an error on his birth certificate, his legal name is Charley Frank Pride.[2] In his early teens, Pride began playing guitar.

Though he also loved music, one of Pride's life-long 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.[3]

He pitched for several other minor league teams, his hopes of making it to the big leagues still alive. Pride appeared to be advancing to a career in baseball, but the U.S. Army derailed this. After serving two years in the military, he tried to return to baseball.[4] Though hindered by an injury to his throwing arm, Pride briefly played for the Missoula Timberjacks of the Pioneer League (a farm club of the Cincinnati Reds) in 1960, and had tryouts with the California Angels (1961) and the New York Mets (1962) organizations, but was not picked up by either team. When it became apparent that he was not destined for greatness on the baseball diamond, Pride pursued a music career.[4]

On June 5, 2008, Charley, his brother, Mack "The Knife" Pride, and 28 other living former Negro League players were "drafted" by each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in a recognition of the on-field achievements and historical relevance of 30 mostly forgotten Negro League stars. Charley was picked by the Texas Rangers while his brother was taken by the Colorado Rockies.[5][6]

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.[7] One song has survived on tape, and was released in the United Kingdom as part of an LP-box. The song is a slow stroll in walking tempo called "Walkin' (the Stroll)."[8]

After struggling to get a contract with a record company, he finally caught the ear of record producer Chet Atkins. Atkins was the longtime producer of RCA Records who had made stars out of country singers such as Jim Reeves, Skeeter Davis and others. Pride was signed to RCA in 1966. In 1966, he released his first single with RCA, "Snakes Crawl at Night". 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.

Soon after the release of "Snakes Crawl at Night", Pride released another single called "Before I Met You". Soon after, Pride's third single, "Just Between You and Me", was released. This song was what finally brought Pride success on the Country charts. The song reached #9 on US Country Hit Parade charts.

Height of his career

The success of "Just Between You and Me" was enormous. He won 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 in 1925.[9] He also appeared in 1967 on the American Broadcasting Company's "The Lawrence Welk Show".[10]

Between 1969 and 1971 Pride had eight single records that simultaneously reached number one on the US Country Hit Parade and also charted on the US Pop Hit Parade charts: "All I Have to Offer You Is Me", "I'm So Afraid of Losing You Again", "I Can't Believe That You've Stopped Lovin' Me", "I'd Rather Love You", "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?", "I 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".

"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.[11] He won CMA's Top Male Vocalist award again in 1972.[12]

"Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" became Pride's signature tune. Besides being a five-week country #1 in late 1971 and early 1972, the song was also his only pop Top 40 hit, hitting #21, and reaching the Top Ten of the Adult Contemporary charts as well.

Pride during the 1970s, 1980s and beyond

During the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Charley Pride continued to rack up country music hits. Other Pride standards of the 1970s and 1980s include "Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone?", "Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town," "Someone Loves You, Honey," "When I Stop Leaving (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).[13]

He stayed with RCA Records until 1986. At that point, he grew angry over the fact that the record company began to promote newer artists and not older artists who had been with the company for years.[citation needed] He moved on to 16th Avenue Records, where Pride bounced back with the #5 hit, "Shouldn't it be Easier Than This." He had a few minor hits with 16th Avenue, as well.

Charley 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.[14]

In 2008, Pride received the Mississippi Arts Commission's lifetime achievement award during the organization's Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.[15][16]

Charley Pride had the distinction of singing the Paul Newman directed movie Sometimes A Great Notion's main soundtrack song "All His Children" in 1970[17]. The movie starred Paul Newman and Henry Fonda and received two Oscar nominations in 1972, one being for the song that Charley sang in the movie[18].


Pride met his future wife, Rozene, while playing baseball in the southern states. They were married in 1956. They have 2 sons (Kraig, Dion) and a daughter (Angela). They currently reside in Dallas, Texas.[14] 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.

In 1994 Pride co-wrote (with Jim Henderson) his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story.[19] In this book he reveals that he has struggled for years with manic depression.[20]

Pride had a tumor removed from 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. [21]


  • 1960s, Pride lived in Helena, MT and played legion baseball for the Helena Smelterites.
  • 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.
  • 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 #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[citation needed], a stretch of Mississippi highway was named for him[citation needed] and he headlined a special Christmas performance for President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House.[citation needed]
  • July 1999 – Pride received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[citation needed]
  • March 25, 2003 - Received the Texas Cultural Trust's Texas Medal of Arts.[22]
  • March 27, 2003 - Ranked #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



American Music Awards

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Country Music Association

Grammy Awards


  • Country Music: The Rough Guide; Wolff, Kurt; Penguin Publishing

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Country Music Hall of Fame
  3. ^ [1] Baseball Hall of Fame website
  4. ^ a b [2] Baseball Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Shroyer, Shawn (2008-05-30). "Rangers to make Pride part of family". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  6. ^ Special Negro Leagues Draft | News
  7. ^ [3] GACTV website
  8. ^ [4] website
  9. ^ [5] Find Articles website
  10. ^ [6] Live Journal website
  11. ^ [7] Fact Monster website
  12. ^ [8] Fact Monster website
  13. ^ Charley Pride website
  14. ^ a b Charley Pride website
  15. ^ Charley Pride to Receive Mississippi Honor
  16. ^ The ClarionLedger: The Pride of Miss.: Gov.'s Awards for Excellence in the Arts recipients
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ First published by William Morrow in 1994, ISBN 068814232X
  20. ^ Bipolar Awareness website
  21. ^ Demillo, Andrew. Charley Pride leads Arkansas lawmakers in song, USA Today, 2009-02-12.
  22. ^ Associated Press (7 February 2003). "Talented Texans to be Honored". The Houston Chronicle: pp. 2. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 

External links

This biography has little resemblance to Charley Pride's bio on his own official page.

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