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Charley Pride, country music’s first Black superstar, dead at 86

Dec. 12 (UPI) — Charley Pride, country music’s first Black superstar, died Saturday due to complications of COVID-19. He was 86.

A statement on Pride’s website reported the singer’s death in Dallas, and Pride’s publicist, Jeremy Westby, confirmed to reporters.

Pride was born March 18, 1934, in Sledge, Miss., to sharecroppers Tessie Stewart Pride and Mack Pride, Sr.

He served in the Army, worked at a smelting plant and briefly tried to make it as a baseball player before his 1963 move to Nashville.

In 1965, Pride signed a contract with RCA Records, landing his first Top 10 Billboard country music single two years later with “Just Between You and Me.”

After “Just Between You and Me” charted, Pride finally quit his job at the smelting plant.

Pride had 51 more country Top 10 hits in the 20 years after his 1967 breakout hit, and in 2000 became the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In November Pride received the Country Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Jimmie Allen.

Organizers of the event said they were following all safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but some who attended did not wear masks.

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