After 50 years in the country music industry, Charley Pride has had the opportunity to develop friendships with some of the genre's biggest names. Now at age 82, and a legend in his own right, Pride is one of the few remaining country artists of his generation.
Recent years have been hard on country music in terms of loss. The times have also been hard on Pride, who shared strong friendships with many of the artists who have passed away in the last 25 years.
Some of the artists Pride was friends with who are now no longer with us include Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. But perhaps no death struck him harder than that of Merle Haggard, who passed away on April 6 of this year.
During an interview with the SunHerald, Pride spoke about the friendship he shared with Haggard, and how he helped him out in a big way when he was first getting started in the business.
"I knew Merle very well; we were really close," Pride said. "Merle was the first person to let me use his equipment -- the first night he did was in Detroit in front of about 10,000 people. I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof."
Following Haggard's death, Pride wrote an emotional tribute to him on Facebook, calling him a "wonderful friend" and saying he would "miss him greatly."
With Haggard's passing, Pride is one of few living legends in country music today. This is something that Pride is well aware of, as he looks around him and realizes all of his friends and the people he started his career with are no longer here:
"To look back and see so many that have left that I started out with -- Tammy Wynette and George Jones and the list goes on and on; it's a hurting thing because I would love for them to be here, especially when you started out with them."
As hard as it is for Pride to cope with the loss of his friends, he manages to push through for himself and his fans. In April, Pride announced his intentions to go on a major tour, which will take him across the U.S. and Canada. He already had his first two shows on April 30 and May 27, so his next stop will be in Nashville on June 9.
We're so grateful we still have Pride and his incredible songs to enjoy, including "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," which you can watch him perform below.
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