Have you ever heard a knock at the door, and when you went to answer, Charley Pride was awaiting there?
I’m sure the expression on my face was a look of disbelief. The man whose records frequently spun around my vinyl player, right in front of me?
While attending the Friday night Opry years back, Mr. Pride wanted to visit the artist I was accompanying. He entered the dressing room, jovial as usual, joking, and talking about songs. Before leaving, he broke into an impromptu version of “Amanda” – the Bob McDill-penned classic recorded by both Don Williams and Waylon Jennings – that I just happened to be named after.
The superstar was just named the 2020 recipient of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award by the CMA’s. His historic contributions to the genre are exceptional – here’s a look back at Charley Pride’s greatest hits and accomplishments.
- Charley Pride becomes the most successful African American country star with his 1966 debut album, “Country,” achieving gold status.
- He scores his first number-one single with “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me) when it reached the top in 1969.
- Ernest Tubb introduces Charley as he makes his Grand Ole Opry debut, becoming the first solo African American guest on the radio show.
- Charley Pride notches nine top ten radio hits, two of them making it all the way to number one by the decade’s end.
- A string of major hits and television appearances culminates in a win for Entertainer of the Year for Charley by the CMAs. Loretta Lynn presents the trophy during the historic moment.
- Charley Pride becomes the first country singer ever to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Nineteen years later, Garth Brooks would become the only the second. Faith Hill (2000), The Chicks (2003), Carrie Underwood (2010), and Luke Bryan (2017) have also performed.
- The first gold album certified in the decade goes to the performer. He’d rack up several more throughout the 70s.
- The CMAs tap the entertainer as co-host for the 1975 telecast; Glen Campbell also acts as host.
- At the first-ever American Music Awards, Charley hears his name called twice as he’s named Best Male Country Artist and scores a win for Best Country Album.
- Twenty-eight songs by Charley reach the Billboard top ten. 20 of them hit number one.
- Charley co-hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards with Mac Davis in 1984
- The singer performs at the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade features the legend as he sits on a float during the celebration.
- As the decade wraps, Charley scores 14 top ten hits, and it’s no surprise that seven made it to number one.
90s and Beyond
- Charley is inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
- He receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.
- The award-winning singer was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 – the genre’s highest honor. Merle Haggard presents the plaque to him during the CMA Awards. The entertainer performs a medley of hits, including “Is Anybody Goin’ To Sant Antone” and “Crystal Chandeliers.”
- As part of an Opry celebration, Charley Pride performed at Carnegie Hall in 2005.
- Jimmie Allen invites Darius Rucker and Charley for a monumental recording of “Why Things Happen” for his “Bettie James” EP.
How many number one songs does Charley Pride have? The superstar has 40 number one singles, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. The Grammy-winning “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’,” “Mountain of Love,” “Roll On Mississippi,” “Does My Ringer Hurt Your Finger,” and so many more are embedded in the country music culture.
Congrats to Charley Pride on his well-deserved accolade from the CMAS. He’s a trailblazer, and his triumphs in life and music are an inspiration to everyone.