Pride's storied career included an Entertainer of the Year Award from the County Music Association in 1971, only four years after his first hit. In that time, he had become RCA's biggest-selling artist since Elvis Presley.
Born March 18, 1934, in Sledge, Mississippi, he served in the army, worked in a smelting plant, and pursued a career in professional baseball. Pride and one of his brothers played in the Negro American League, a distinction for which they were honored in 2008.
When his baseball aspirations failed to pan out, Pride signed a recording deal with RCA in 1965.
His first big hit was "Just Between You and Me" (1967), and he went on to have a total of 52 Top 10 country hits, 30 of them rising to pole position. His biggest smash was 1971's "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'," and he was Oscar-nominated for the song "All His Children" from the film "Sometimes a Great Nation" (1971).
In 1994, Pride published the memoir "Pride: The Charley Pride Story," in which he addressed his trailblazing status as a man of color in the world of country music; he was one of only three African-Americans in the Grand Ole Opry.
Pride's final public appearance was in November, when the Country Music Hall of Famer received the CMA's Lifetime Achievement Award and performed at the ceremony.
Pride is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ebby, and their three children.
Many artists took to social media to mourn Pride. Read some of the reactions below:
Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans. - Dolly (2/2)
Tanya Tucker tweeted, "It’s such a sad day saying so long to #CharleyPride. I’m just so thankful I got to sing a song with him. That’s where this pic was taken. I also narrated his I’ll Be Me documentary. My heart, my love, my soul... everything goes out to Rozene and the entire Pride family."
Reba McEntire tweeted, "Charley Pride will always be a legend in Country music. He will truly be missed but will always be remembered for his great music, wonderful personality and his big heart. My thoughts are with his wife Rozene and their family. RIP, Charley."
Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted a photo of himself chatting with Pride, writing, "The last time I spoke to my good friend and legend Charley Pride. We met in ‘92 playing shows together in Australia. His beloved sweetheart Rosie by his side. A gentleman... legend and true trail blazer. With much respect #RIP."
Lee Greenwood tweeted, "Charley Pride was a dear friend & truly one of the sweetest men in the music business. I was privileged to be his opening act when I first came to town."
Travis Tritt tweeted a photo of himself with Pride, writing, "I’m so sad to learn that Charley Pride has passed away at the age of 86. Charley opened doors for so many artists and I was proud to record with him and to know him as my friend. He will be sorely missed, but his music will live on forever. Deepest condolences to his family."