Charley Pride, the trailblazing “first Black superstar” of country music, left an indelible mark on the genre, overcoming prejudice in the late 1960s. With over 50 singles in the top 10 country charts and 36 No. 1 hits, Pride received numerous accolades, including the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. Despite his success, early in his career, Pride and his label kept his race a secret, underscoring the challenges he faced as a Black country artist.
The Path to Music: Baseball, Army, and Nashville
Starting his musical journey at 14, Pride bought his first guitar and pursued a varied career, including playing minor league baseball and serving in the U.S. Army. After auditioning for a Nashville producer in his late 20s, Pride’s career took off. Despite his diverse pursuits, Pride’s passion for music remained constant, even entertaining teammates with musical numbers on the baseball team bus. In 1956, Pride married Rozene, and they built a family with three children.
The Complications Unveiled After Pride’s Death
While Pride’s family life appeared harmonious, complications surfaced posthumously when a fourth child, Tyler Pride, came forward. Born from an affair between Charley Pride and a flight attendant, Tyler’s relationship with his father was strained. A court battle over child support payments, involving a DNA test to establish paternity when Tyler was 13, added further complexity. Tyler, feeling financially overlooked compared to his siblings, later sued the estate over his absence in Charley Pride’s will.
Tyler’s Lawsuit Against the Estate
Charley Pride’s $40 million estate, managed by his wife Rozene, excluded Tyler, sparking a legal dispute. While it’s legally permissible for parents to omit inheritance for their children, Tyler claimed Rozene unduly influenced Charley. Alleging that Charley distanced himself from Tyler to maintain peace at home, Tyler argued that the musician would have wanted to provide for him. Rozene staunchly refuted these claims, asserting that they had supported Tyler financially throughout the years and that Charley made a conscious decision not to include him in the will.
In conclusion, Charley Pride’s musical legacy and personal life are intertwined with triumphs and challenges. His groundbreaking achievements in country music echo, but the complications emerging after his death add a layer of complexity. The legal battle over his estate reveals family dynamics and the difficult decisions around inheritance. Despite the fame and success, the posthumous revelations underscore the intricate tapestry of Charley Pride’s life.