Charley Pride, country music icon, dies at 86 from COVID-19

Charley Pride, known for being country music’s first Black superstar, died Saturday from complications of the coronavirus, The Hill reported.

The three-time Grammy winner was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, according to The Hill, and had more than 50 Top 10 hits in the genre during his career, including “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,’” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” and “Mountain of Love.”

Pride died in Dallas at the age of 86, his PR firm confirmed to The Hill.

His death comes roughly a month after his final performance, which occurred at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards on Nov. 11, NPR reported. There, Pride appeared alongside country singer Jimmie Allen and received the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Rest in power”

According to Entertainment Weekly, the awards show has faced criticism in the wake of Pride’s death as speculation has swirled over whether the country legend contracted COVID-19 at the event.

In a since-deleted tweet, country star Maren Morris wrote: “I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made. But if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged. Rest in power, Charley.”

The Country Music Association, for its part, has insisted that it followed all COVID-19 protocols.

“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the group said in a statement, adding that Pride tested negative for the disease multiple times both before and after the event.

A subsequent statement from Pride’s family said he “was admitted to the hospital in late November with COVID-19 type symptoms,” Entertainment Weekly reported. The star’s family also said “he would want his fans to take this virus very seriously.”

A great loss

In the wake of Pride’s death, scores of fans and fellow country music stars including Dolly Parton came forward to pay tribute to the legend. According to The Hill, Parton called Pride one of her “dearest and oldest friends.” Others referred to him as a “trailblazer” and “an icon.”

The novel coronavirus disease has killed nearly 300,000 Americans this year, according to a tracker from The New York Times.

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