Charley Pride, country music's first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died on December 12, in Dallas. According to a release, he died of complications from COVID-19; he was 86.
A Facebook post from his family stated that "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."
Pride's final performance was on the CMA Awards show on November 11 when he was presented with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020; he sang "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'."
He is a member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Trail of Fame, and played at the rodeo more than 30 times in the past 14 years, ABC13 notes. The rodeo released a statement following Pride's passing:
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Charley's passing, a member of our Star Trail of Fame. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He was a true RodeoHouston legend, holding the record for most performances with 33.
His first hit was "Just Between You and Me," which hit country's Top Ten in 1967. Over the next 20 years, he notched 52 Top 10 country hits such as "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "Mountain of Love."
He won numerous Grammy awards, Country Music Association awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Price began his music career in 1963, following stints in the Army, working at a Missouri smelting plant, and attempts to break into big-league baseball.
For many years the only Black country music star, he was considered a trailblazer.
"They used to ask me how it feels to be the 'first colored country singer,'" he said in a 1992 interview. "Then it was 'first Negro country singer;' then 'first black country singer.' Now I'm the 'first African-American country singer.' That's about the only thing that's changed. This country is so race-conscious, so ate-up with colors and pigments. I call it 'skin hangups' — it's a disease."
Pride was also part of the Texas Rangers' ownership group, and the team is flying the flags at half-staff at Globe Life Field and Globe Life Park in his memory.
"The Texas Rangers join the country music world in mourning the loss of Charley Pride. While Mr. Pride was a legendary performer who entertained millions of fans in the United States and around the world, we will remember him as a true friend to this franchise," said the team in a statement.
Pride's death comes one month after the CMA Awards which were held indoors, drawing speculation that he may have contracted the illness while attending the event; but the CMA issued a statement saying that necessary protocols were taken, and that Pride tested negative both before and after the event.
He leaves behind three children, six grandchildren, and two grandchildren plus four siblings and numerous nieces and nephews.
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.