Country singer Charley Pride dies from coronavirus at 86

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The baseballer-turned singer is remembered as a "country music pioneer" after selling more than 25 million records with hits such as Kiss an Angel Good Morning, and being the first black inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Charley Pride, country music's first black star, has died of complications from COVID-19 aged 86.

Key points: Pride was the first black inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame

Pride was the first black inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame He sold more than 25 million records during his career

He sold more than 25 million records during his career Tributes from fellow country stars remembered Pride as a pioneer of the genre

A public relations firm confirmed Pride died in Dallas on Saturday, US time.

Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s.

His hit songs included Kiss an Angel Good Morning, Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone, Burgers and Fries, Mountain of Love, and Someone Loves You Honey.

He had three Grammy Awards, more than 30 US number one 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, won the Country Music Association's top male vocalist and entertainer of the year awards in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

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The Smithsonian in Washington acquired memorabilia from Pride, including a pair of boots and one of his guitars, for the the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Pride 'never focused on race'

Other American black country stars came before Pride, namely DeFord Bailey, who was a Grand Ole Opry member between 1927 and 1941.

But until the early 1990s, when Cleve Francis came along, Pride was the only black country singer signed to a major label. In 1993, he joined the Opry cast in Nashville.

Charley Pride said music was "the greatest communicator on the planet Earth". ( Reuters: Harrison McClary )

"They used to ask me how it feels to be the 'first coloured country singer'," he told The Dallas Morning News in 1992.

"Then it was 'first Negro country singer;' then 'first black country singer. Now I'm the 'first African American country singer. That's about the only thing that's changed.

"This country is so race-conscious,…
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