Charley Pride has died.
The 86-year-old country music legend, who was best known for his 1971 hit ‘Kiss an Angel Good Mornin”, passed away in his home city of Dallas, Texas, from complications of Covid-19 on Saturday (12.12.20), his publicist Jeremy Westby has confirmed.
Dolly Parton, who sang the duet ‘God’s Coloring Book’ with Charley, has led tributes to the pioneering black singer.
The ‘9 to 5’ hitmaker tweeted: “I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you. (1/2) … Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans. – Dolly (2/2) (sic)”
Luke Combs recalled being “in awe” of Charley who he once met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.
He wrote: “I had the pleasure of meeting Charley Pride when I was playing the @opry.
“I was in awe of his presence and his talent. So saddened by the news of his passing. He was a true legend and trailblazer. His impact on our genre and generations of artists will never be forgotten. Rip.”
Martina McBride posted: “So saddened to hear about the passing of Charley Pride. Prayers for his wife Rozene and his family.”
The music icon was the first black artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Born in Mississippi in 1934, Charley – who first picked up a guitar when he was 14 – was set on becoming a baseball player, before he moved to Nashville and realised his immense talent for singing.
Between 1956 and 1968 he also had a brief stint in the US Army.
The beloved musician received a host of accolades during a dazzling career spanning almost seven decades, including Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1971, Top Male Vocalist in 1972, and just last month he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Charley’s last live performance just so happened to be at the CMAs on November 11, when he graced viewers with a performance of ‘Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’’.
On top of his CMAs trophy collection, Charley won three Grammys and scored an impressive 52 top 10 country hits.
The ‘Mountain of Love’ star became the first African American performer to appear on the iconic Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville.
A deeply religious man, the revered musician credited his phenomenal success to God.
He once said: “God had a lot to do with it. I really believe that.”