Black country music legend Charley Pride died on Saturday due to complications from COVID-19 at 86.

The “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” singer died in hospice care in Dallas, according to his website.

Pride, born on March 28, 1934, was the son of a sharecropper, who eventually went on to become country music’s first black star. He was the first black singer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and went on to be a part of the Grand Ole Opry cast in 1993.

Before heading into music, he tried his hand at baseball, trying out for the New York Mets. He was also briefly in the army, and worked as a zinc smelter in Montana. He eventually made recordings, and was signed by RCA’s Chet Atkins in 1965. He worked with producer Jack Clement on the song “Just Between You and Me,” which hit the country chart’s top ten, and allowed Pride to quit his job as a smelter.

Pride went on to release dozens of albums, and sold more than 25 million copies, making it to the top ten in the country chart 52 times.

Last month, Pride gave his final performance at the CMA Awards, accompanied by Jimmie Allen. At the show, Pride was given the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. The Country Music Association released a statement claiming that they had followed COVID-19 protocols.

“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the statement said. “Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times.”

“I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away,” Dolly Parton tweeted. “It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.”

Allen released an 18-minute long YouTube video titled “Rest In Love Mr. Pride,” reflecting on what the singer’s legendary career meant to him.

 

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