Charley Pride

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Charley Pride
Charley-Pride 1981.JPEG
Pride performing at the Capital Centre on the 1981 Inauguration Day
Background information
Birth nameCharley Frank Pride
Born(1938-03-18) March 18, 1938 (age 76)[1]
Sledge, Mississippi, US
GenresCountry music
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, recording artist, performer, business owner
InstrumentsVoice, guitar
Years active1966‒present
16th Avenue
Music City
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Charley Pride
Charley-Pride 1981.JPEG
Pride performing at the Capital Centre on the 1981 Inauguration Day
Background information
Birth nameCharley Frank Pride
Born(1938-03-18) March 18, 1938 (age 76)[1]
Sledge, Mississippi, US
GenresCountry music
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, recording artist, performer, business owner
InstrumentsVoice, guitar
Years active1966‒present
16th Avenue
Music City

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 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[edit]

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 Army derailed this. After serving two years in the military, he tried to return to baseball.[5] 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,[6] and had tryouts with the California Angels (1961) and the New York Mets (1962) organizations, but was not picked up by either team. He worked construction in 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 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. Pride was picked by the Texas Rangers, with whom he has had a long affiliation, and the Colorado Rockies took his brother.[8][9]

Rise to music fame[edit]

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 in 1965. In January 1966, he released his first single with RCA, "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[edit]

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,[12] who was a regular cast member of the Opry from 1925 through 1941, and made a final appearance in 1974.[13] Pride also appeared in 1967 on the American Broadcasting Company's "The Lawrence Welk Show".[14]

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.[15]

Pride sang the Paul Newman directed film Sometimes a Great Notion's main soundtrack song "All His Children" in 1970.[16] The film starred Newman and Henry Fonda and received two Oscar nominations in 1972, one being for the song that Pride sang.[17]

"Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'"[edit]

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.[18] He won CMA's Top Male Vocalist award again in 1972.[19]

"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.

Pride during the 1970s, 1980s and beyond[edit]

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).[20]

He stayed 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.[citation needed] 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]


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 Jan. 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 biopic 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]




Academy of Country Music Awards

American Music Awards

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Country Music Association

Grammy Awards

See also[edit]


  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 (2010-01-02). "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 [1] Baseball Hall of Fame website
  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 (2008-05-30). "Rangers to make Pride part of family". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  9. ^ By Justice B. Hill / "Special Negro Leagues Draft | News". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  10. ^ [2] GACTV website
  11. ^ [3] website
  12. ^ [4] Find Articles website
  13. ^ DeFord Bailey
  14. ^ [5] Live Journal website
  15. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 265. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ [6] Fact Monster website
  19. ^ [7] Fact Monster website
  20. ^ "Charley Pride website". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  21. ^ a b Charley Pride website
  22. ^ January 3, 2008 (2008-01-03). "Charley Pride to Receive Mississippi Honor". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  23. ^ The ClarionLedger: The Pride of Miss.: Gov.'s Awards for Excellence in the Arts recipients[dead link]
  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". 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  28. ^ "Charley Pride and Mollie Corbett to Perform During Game Five of the 2010 World Series on FOX| Official Info". 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  29. ^ "Dwayne Johnson to Star in Charley Pride Biopic". 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  30. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  31. ^ "Talented Texans to be Honored". The Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. 7 February 2003. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 

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