In the early ’70s, he became RCA’s best selling artist since Elvis Presley. He was born the son of a sharecropper with 10 siblings. He grew up hard in the rural area of Sledge, Mississippi, but he didn’t let that stop him from racking up a staggering 39 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. He is a true country music legend, and his songs will ring through the years. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. We are going to take a look at one of RCA’s best selling recording artists, Charley Pride.
Pride was encouraged by country music legends Red Sovine and Red Foley to pursue a career in country music, so Pride went to Sun Studios in Memphis and recorded some songs. One of those songs was released in England in a box set, and Jack Johnson signed Pride to a management deal and went to work on trying to get him a record deal. They finally caught the ear of legendary guitarist and producer Chet Atkins, and soon Charley Pride was signed to RCA Victor.
RCA released an album of Pride’s music, and he finally made his mark with “Just Between You and Me,” which reached No. 9 on the US Country charts. After some struggles, Pride released the song that would become his signature song in 1971. It is the song that helped him win the Country Music Association’s prestigious Entertainer of the Year award and also Top Male Vocalist. The song was “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,” and spent five weeks at No. 1 on the country charts and as a crossover hit reaching the Top Ten of the Adult Contemporary charts also.
In addition to his country music history, Pride has had other life experiences that make him the man he is today, and many are not aware that his career could have taken an entirely different direction. When Pride was a teenager, he played baseball in the minor leagues – signed by the NY Yankees and later the Cincinnati Reds. It wasn’t until Pride reached his 20s that his love for music would not let him go, so he began to seriously pursue a career in country music. Once he met Chet Atkins and was signed to RCA, the rest…was history. And that history provided country music with some of the most remembered songs of its genre. But Pride didn’t give up his love or passion for baseball. He still indulges by attending games and also happens to be part owner of a little baseball team called the Texas Rangers.
Still, there are struggles in every person’s life – and Pride has not been without a few of his own. In 1994, he was the cowriter of his autobiography that talked about his struggle with manic depression. In 1997, Pride had a tumor removed from one of his vocal cords.
Despite the struggles, Pride has been rewarded for his long and influential career. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1993, was honored with the ACM’S Pioneer Award in 1994, received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, was named one of CMT’S “Greatest Men in Country Music,” and has even garnered a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Arts Commission. Pride is most definitely a “celebrated” artist.
The linger of his hits still grace several radio stations across the USA, and the power of his music is still touching lives. Charley Pride is a one-of-a-kind singer, and he is still touring and making music. If you check out his tour dates on his website, he is booked all the way through November. When you hear songs like “I’m Gonna Love Her on the Radio” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” you realize Pride’s success was no accident. Those are the kind of songs that built country music. If you would like to learn more about Charley Pride, go to his website or find him on Facebook.