Country music pioneer, Charley Pride passed away Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, as a result of complications from COVID-19. He was 86.
Pride was a Country Music Hall of Fame member, a Grand Ole Opry member, and bonafide hitmaker. Between his chart debut in 1966, and 1989, Pride had 29 No. 1 country hits and over 50 Top 10 tracks, including enduring classics like “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” (1970), “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” (1971), and “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” (1969).
In 1971, he was named CMA Entertainer of the Year, as well as Male Vocalist of the Year in both 1971 and 1972. Pride was also the first Black man to co-host The CMA Awards, taking the reins in 1975 alongside Glen Campbell. He also was awarded the ACM Pioneer Award in 1994. Pride holds three Grammy Awards and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Recording Academy in 2017. Pride was honored most recently at the CMA Awards in Nov. with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Following news of Pride’s death, tributes poured in from many artists, including Jimmie Allen, Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Luke Combs, and more.
Read below for several tributes to Pride:
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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)
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 12, 2020
Charley was a part of my career from the earliest days when I was hanging out with Byron Gallimore at Pride Music Group. Charley was just the nicest man, generous of heart and spirit. So kind. Musically he will always be a legend and one of the country greats. pic.twitter.com/a4sJIbCpmp
— Tim McGraw (@TheTimMcGraw) December 12, 2020
My heart is so heavy. Charley Pride was an icon a legend and any other word u wanna use for his greatness. He destroyed Barriers and did things that no one had ever done. But today I’m thinking of my friend. Heaven just got one of the finest people I know. I miss and love u CP!
— Darius Rucker (@dariusrucker) December 13, 2020
Heartbreaking. I truly loved my friend, Charley Pride. The world will never be the same. He was one of the very best things that ever happened to country music. I’m all tears tonight. #charleypride #KissAnAngelGoodMorning #ihatecovid19 pic.twitter.com/5iOdJNbDuv
— Loretta Lynn (@LorettaLynn) December 13, 2020
So sad to hear about the loss of my old friend Charley Pride today. He was an amazing entertainer and could sing a country song like no other. I had the privilege of getting to work with him early in my career and he couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming to a new guy. pic.twitter.com/xiLLmqflQ9
— George Strait (@GeorgeStrait) December 13, 2020
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
— Luke Combs ? (@lukecombs) December 12, 2020
“Like the rest of the world, I am shocked and saddened to learn about the death of Charley Pride. He and I went back to the early days of his career in 1966 when he made his first nationwide appearance as a guest on my syndicated television show. In later years, we toured together, shared music and argued baseball endlessly. I saw firsthand some of his early struggles as the first Black performer in country music. My admiration for the way he handled himself during those years knows no bounds. I’ve lost a hero and a friend.” – Bill Anderson
“My friendship with Charley goes back to his very first tour with Willie Nelson that I was privileged to be a part of also. As big as his voice was, his personality was even bigger… and his heart was even bigger than that. He loved jokes, loved stories, loved to laugh…. and loved us. I will miss all of this. He’s leaving us some wonderful memories. My heart goes out to Rozene’, his family, his Opry family and his many friends and fans.” – Jeannie Seely
“I loved Charley Pride and will miss his happy spirit. His voice was so unique, his records were so well done, he was a great entertainer, and he opened up a whole new market for country music. No wonder he is in the Hall of Fame.” – Ricky Skaggs
“Charley Pride, a pioneer, a music man, a baseball player, a good friend and the love of Rozene’s life, has passed on. Without his encouragement when I was playing the Whiskey a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in the ‘70s, I might have never made it to Nashville—and to hear this news tears out a piece of my heart. That he died of COVID makes me even sadder. These are such sad days with too much loss. Please, to everyone who’s ever loved ‘Kiss An Angel Good Morning,’ ‘Mountain of Love’ or ‘Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone,’ wear a mask, wash your hands and be wise about gathering. We’ve lost too many, and I just want us all to be here to love each other and the music the way Charley always did for years to come.” – Ronnie Milsap
“Charley has been a longtime friend and over the years I have always enjoyed laughing and exchanging jokes with him. We will miss you.” – Jeff Cook of ALABAMA
“Charley’s smile always lit up the room. His historic Hall of Fame career lit up an industry. Tonight I’m sure he’s still lightening them up… just a little higher up.” – Teddy Gentry of ALABAMA
“He and Rozene are true friends of mine and Kelly’s. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rozene and his family. Heaven awaits my friend, Charley.” – Randy Owen of ALABAMA
“Charley Pride was a longtime friend and great entertainer. I’ll miss him always calling me Ray Ragsdale and reminding me that I’m an Aquarius. RIP Charley, my friend.” – Ray Stevens
“Charley Pride was a trail blazer whose remarkable voice & generous spirit broke down barriers in country music just as his hero Jackie Robinson had in baseball. His last performance was his hit, ‘Kiss an Angel Good Mornin.’ Now he is one.” – Ken Burns
“Charley Pride was a global icon in music, baseball and business. He broke barriers, unprecedented at the time, and made us all realize that we have more in common than our differences. Charley was a great American and a good Christian. Perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments is his more than 60-year marriage to his lovely, devoted partner in life, his wife Rozene. As one of the producers of The Charley Pride Story, I’ll make sure his story is not unsung to the younger generation. While Charley has left this Earth, he is now singing in the Heavenly choir.” – Dennis Quaid, co-producer of The Charley Pride Story