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Charley Pride

Charley Pride: Still playing night games.
Charley Pride: Still playing night games.

Until earlier this year, Charley Pride held a record that looked like it might stand forever and ever, amen. Pride's 1983 song "Night Games" was the last time a solo African American hit No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart, a peak the ­Mississippi-born sharecropper's son had reached many times before — 28, to be exact. Then, back in September, along came Blowfish lead singer Darius "Hootie" Rucker's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," which topped the charts 25 years to the week after "Night Games." (Trivia nerds take note: The only other black person to have a country No. 1 is Ray Charles, with 1985 Willie Nelson duet "Seven Spanish Angels.") Pride's influence on Rucker goes a lot deeper than skin color — his robust baritone was equally suited to pop-friendly countrypolitan arrangements and sawdusted honky-tonkers, a versatility that spawned some of the most beloved songs in country music history: 1966 debut "Snakes Crawl at Night," "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," "Crystal Chandeliers," "Burgers and Fries," "Mountain of Love," "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" and oh so many more. Texans, though, need no other reason to love the longtime Dallas resident and former semipro ballplayer — who still works out every spring with the Texas Rangers — than his wonderful version of Doug Sahm's "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?" which Pride took all the way to the top in 1970.

 
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