Warm and sincere, Charley Pride had the ability to touch the heart with country music classics about life and love. He was an honest hitmaker, staying true to himself and his sound long after the traditional country style had lost favor among the mainstream.
Throughout his decades-long career, Pride topped the charts with more than 50 Top 10 hits on Billboard‘s Hot Country chart, more than half of which peaked at No. 1. Not only a chart-topper but also a change-maker, he broke down barriers to help make room for Black artists in Nashville.
His performances on stage were just as awe-inspiring. Here are five live moments in honor of Charley Pride, who passed away two years ago today (Dec. 12).
1. “I’m Not the Boy I Used to Be”
For I’ve been gone away too long and I’ve done everything that’s wrong / But I think I’ve finally found myself at last / And just you wait and see another chance is all I need / But mama I’m not the boy I used to be, sings Pride in the lonesome meandering tune, “I’m Not the Boy I Used to Be.”
His rich baritone is classic to his traditional sound, and really shines in the simplistic performance, below.
2. “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'”
The secret to an unending love, Pride cheekily sings, You’ve got to kiss an angel good mornin’ / And let her know you think about her when you’re gone / Kiss an angel good mornin’ / And love her like the devil when you get back home.
Pride never needed extravagant, showy flourishes when performing his songs live. His stage presence was made perfect in its simplicity and sincerity. A slight smile here and there were enough to captivate a crowd.
3. “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger,” Live on The Marty Stuart Show
Live on the ever-flashy Marty Stuart’s country music show, it’s Pride who captivates with his soul-stirring gospel-like performance of “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger.”
4. “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love with You)”
The first African-American solo singer to perform on the Grand Ole Opry since founding member DeFord Bailey in 1941, Pride chose to perform the Hank Williams classic, “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love with You),” for his debut at the legendary venue in 1967.
Watch him perform the cover during his appearance on the television variety show, Hee Haw.
5. “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone”
Despite his kitschy surroundings, Pride’s performance of “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” is a memorable one. With clear and sure vocals, he offers a foot-tapping good time with the country standard.
Photo by Ben De Rienzo