We have had some very enlightening discussions of race and pride recently, but where does this fellow fit into the picture? Country singer Charley Pride is expected to make a full recovery following brain surgery last week, his personal manager said Monday.
Pride, 66, was hospitalized Wednesday for a subdural hematoma, a blood clot that occurs when blood from a torn vessel collects between the brain and the skull.
He had sought treatment after experiencing severe headaches, his manager, John Daines, said. The surgery was performed Saturday at an undisclosed hospital.
Daines said Pride was alert and awake when he visited him Monday morning. He’s expected to make a complete recovery and could be released from the hospital Tuesday, Daines said. [AP] Best wishes on a speedy recovery, Charley.
You don’t often hear Charley mentioned among the African-American greats, but these accomplishments are pretty hard to ignore:
- Born to poor sharecroppers, one of eleven children in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride is a timeless everyman, revered by his musical peers and adored by countless millions of fans around the globe. His golden baritone voice has transcended race and spanned the generations.
Charley Pride unofficially started his music career in the late 1950s as a ballplayer with the Negro American League’s Memphis Red Sox singing and playing guitar on the team bus between ballparks. Self-taught on a guitar bought at the age 14 from Sears Roebuck, Pride would join various bands’ onstage as he and the team roved the country.
After a tryout with the New York Mets, Pride decided to return to his Montana home via Nashville. It was there he met Jack Johnson, who upon hearing the singer perform, sent him on his way with the promise of a management contract and a newly forged relationship that would last for over a decade.
A year later, Pride returned to the Music City and was introduced to producer, Jack Clement, who gave him several songs to learn. When Clement heard Pride’s renditions, he immediately asked the fledgling singer if he could cut two songs in two hours. Pride agreed, and “The Snakes Crawl at Night” and “Atlantic Coastal Line” were recorded.
Three months later, Pride’s two song demo landed in the hands of already legendary RCA Records head, Chet Atkins, who was so moved he immediately signed him to the label. Pride’s first single hit the airwaves in January 1966 and just like that his star was on the rise. Within a short period of time “The Snakes Crawl at Night” was climbing the charts with his “Before I Met You” closing in on its tail.
….Over the past thirty years, Pride has remained one of the Top 20 best-selling country artists of all-time. His incredible legacy includes 36 #1 hit singles, over 70 million albums sold, 31 gold and 4 platinum albums – including one quadruple platinum. On RCA Records, Charley Pride is second in sales only to Elvis Presley.
Dozens of Pride’s chart toppers now stand as modern classics. “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” went on to be a million-selling crossover single and helped Pride land Country Music Association Awards as Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
Other memorable Pride standards include “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone?” “I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again,” “Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town,” “Someone Loves You Honey,” “When I Stop Leaving I’ll be gone,” “Burgers and Fries,” and “You’re So Good When You’re Bad,” to name but a few. His moving performances of Hank Williams classics “Kaw-Liga” and “Honky Tonk Blues” on his number 1 album, “There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me,” was also certified Gold.
In 1994, Charley released his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story (published by William Morrow). Aside from detailing great moments of his amazing career and journeyman stint as a ballplayer, Pride: is an often moving, sometimes hilarious tale of his almost improbable dream come true and journey to the top of the charts.
Formidable and worthy of the highest respect, no? Isn’t he the Jackie Robinson of country music? If not, why?